Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Most critics of Delany believe that the work he did in the middle 1960’s is his best—Babel-17 (1966), The Einstein Intersection (1967), and Nova (1968). Dhalgren (1975), published a year before Triton, is considered wordy and self-indulgent by many critics, especially when compared with the artistic compression of Delany’s early works. Triton is more like the early work than Dhalgren, and it concerns itself with the same issues as Delany’s great novels.

Delany’s interests in psychology, language, communication, knowledge, and sexuality, as seen in an early novel such as Babel-17, are here in Triton as well. There is less verbal economy in Triton than in the novels of the middle 1960’s, in part as a result of the type of protagonist that Delany uses. Bron is both the central character and an object of satire; consequently, the novel is more expansive than it would be if the brilliant poetess-heroine of Babel-17 were solving the fictive problems. Bron does not simply act; he exhibits behavior of the traditional male which Delany mocks. Dramatizing Bron’s bad behavior for the purpose of satire takes time. In the case of Triton, which is best described as a philosophical feminist novel, time is well used.