This article explores Eli Sisters as a reinvigorated rogue who finds his artistic calling in Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, published in 2011. With the help of insights from narratology and genre theory, the article provides a textual analysis of Eli’s discourse, perspective and behaviour. Eli casts a critical light on the senseless violence, unbridled greed, ecological devastation, and hyper-masculinity inherent to America’s Frontier myth. As a reinvigorated rogue, he raises questions about what it means to be human and reflects upon morality. With hindsight, the rogue as an artist creates a generically hybrid narrative that parodically imitates and transforms the genre conventions of the Western and the picaresque tale. The article also draws attention to the power that Eli assigns to women in a story about male heroic conquest. These include otherworldly female figures from classical mythology and the brothers’ mother.


Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers, the reinvigorated rogue, parody, genre border crossing


Arts and Humanities | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Bakhtin, Mikhail. The Dialogic Imagination. Four Essays by M. M. Bakhtin. Ed. Michael Holquist. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: U of Texas P, 1981. Print.

Bertens, Hans. “Postmodern Humanism.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de littérature comparée (Sept. 2012): 299–316. Web. 18 May 2019.

Boxall, Peter. Twenty-First-Century Fiction. A Critical Introduction. New York: Cambridge UP, 2013. Print.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. New York: Pantheon, 1949. Print.

Dalberg Global Development Advisors. Healthy Rivers. Healthy People. Addressing the Mercury Crisis in the Amazon. WWF Report (Nov. 2018): 1–47. Web. 28 May 2019.

DeWitt, Patrick. French Exit. New York: Ecco, 2018. Print.

DeWitt, Patrick. The Sisters Brothers. London: Granta, 2011. Print.

Fernandes, Ana Raquel Lourenço. What about the Rogue? Survival and Metamorphosis in Contemporary British Literature and Culture. Brussels: Peter Lang, 2011. Print.

Gussago, Luigi. Picaresque Fiction Today. The Trickster in Contemporary Anglophone and Italian Literature. Leiden: Brill Rodopi, 2016. Print.

Holland, Mary K. Succeeding Postmodernism. Language & Humanism in Contemporary American Literature. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. Print.

Huber, Irmtraud. Literature after Postmodernism. Reconstructive Fantasies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Print.

Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism. History, Theory, Fiction. New York: Routledge, 1988. Print.

Kearney, Richard. On Stories. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.

Meretoja, Hanna. The Ethics of Storytelling. Narrative Hermeneutics, History, and the Possible. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2018. Print.

Meretoja, Hanna. The Narrative Turn in Fiction and Theory. The Crisis and Return of Storytelling from Robbe-Grillet to Tournier. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014. Print.

Mitchell, Lee Clark. Westerns. Making the Man in Fiction and Film. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1996. Print.

Nünning, Vera. “Beyond Indifference: New Departures in British Fiction at the Turn of the 21st Century.” Beyond Postmodernism. Reassessments in Literature, Theory, and Culture. Ed. Klaus Stierstorfer. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2003. 235–55. Print.

Polić, Vanja. “Sisters Brothers Pack Heat: or How the Sisters Fared in the West.” Facing the Crises: Anglophone Literature in the Postmodern World. Ed. Ljubica Matek and Jasna Poljak Rehlicki. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2014. 128–46. Web. 7 May 2019.

Taylor, Charles. The Ethics of Authenticity. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1992. Print.

Tompkins, Jane. West of Everything. The Inner Life of Westerns. New York: Oxford UP, 1992. Print.

Visser, Margaret. Beyond Fate. Toronto: House of Anansi, 2002. Print.

“Weird.” Ldoceonline.com. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Web. 2 Aug. 2019.

Wicks, Ulrich. “Narrative Distance in Picaresque Fiction.” College Literature 6.3 (Fall 1979): 165–81. Web. 18 Dec. 2017.

Wicks, Ulrich. “The Nature of Picaresque Narrative: A Modal Approach.” PMLA 89.2 (Mar. 1974): 240–49. Web. 18 Dec. 2017.

First Page


Last Page