Terrorism and Sentiment in Twentieth-Century Fiction: Conrad to DeLillo
Bennett, Mark S.
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Terrorism and Sentiment in Twentieth-Century Fiction examines a set of writers, as novelists but also as political and social commentators, in the public discourse that they have contributed to, in shaping the conversation about incidents of political violence in different time periods throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. I am re-examining these authors in regards to the political critique of terrorism they provide in their fiction precisely through their attention to the phenomena of terrorism’s spectacularity and theatricality. Ranging back to the decade before the Great War, certain twentieth-century authors who addressed political violence in their fiction—Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway, V.S Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, and Don DeLillo—were uniquely attuned in different ways to the function of these performative dynamics of violence, even as they lived with instances of terroristic violence in their own times and societies. Each chapter deals with a different time period in the twentieth century, the century of total war, in which terrorist violence was rife. Terrorism’s spectacularity and theatricality are transhistorical, though the particular instances of the violence are unique to their historical coordinates. All of these authors were attuned to these operative dynamics of terrorism, and critiqued the violence and the violent rhetoric that spurred it in public discourse, in their fiction. More importantly, though, all of these authors conspicuously revealed the emotional dynamics associated with the acts as experienced by the victims and the killers themselves through foregrounding these visceral experiences in their narratives. In these novels, terrorism and the regime’s retaliatory violence against it can no longer be only apprehended through public, politicized discourse. The emotional experiences of the sufferers complicate and destabilize the political discourse upon public violence. If only in the realm of fiction, this eruption of emotion serves as a political challenge to the discourses upon terrorism, in a way that resists political coordinates.
terrorism in fiction
sentiment in twentieth-century fiction
terrorism and spectacle in fiction
Date available in INDIGO2014-06-20T15:33:14Z
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