Becoming the Multi-spy A Technological Reading of Anna Kavan's 'Starting a Career' Section Articles


Adam Maric-Cleaver


This article engages in a technological reading of Anna Kavan’s short story ‘Starting a Career’, one which places the story in the context of 1960s technological developments and discourses. By reading ‘Starting a Career’ whilst paying attention to the technological and the transmitted, we can begin to perceive the story’s engagement with and critique of what Mark Wigley has called the ‘Network fever’ of the 1960s. It argues that Kavan’s story reveals the ways in which the promises of distributed power within networked communications and capital which surface in the ‘network fever’ of the 1960s, can obscure centralised vertical power structures. In doing so, I reveal the ways in which Kavan’s story also speaks to more recent scholarship on networks and politics, such as the work of Tung-Hui Hu, Franco Berardi, Andrew Galloway and Eugene Thacker, as well as the ways in which Kavan’s work engages and critiques the work of Marshall McLuhan. From this analysis, I show that such a technological reading, applied to a writer who rarely read in such a way, offers not only new avenues for criticism within Kavan scholarship but also the wider field of twentieth-century literary studies.