Contemporary Symbolic Depictions of Collective Disaster
CHAPTER FOUR: Generic Considerations: Postmodernism and the Trauma Novel: (Coetzee, Pynchon) 151
Chapter Four Generic Considerations: Postmodernism and the Trauma Novel The foregoing interpretation of The White Hotel suggests that the work is best read as a symbolic novel of consciousness rather than as an example of a postmodern novel portraying the multivalent contemporary state of mind that, as Hutcheon puts it, "disturbs and disperses the notion of the individual, coherent subject ... " (166). In my view, Thomas does not subscribe to the postmodern view of the self as an illusory construct. What he does with the literary concept of identity is to add to the modernist depiction of private and unique experience the idea of a collective source for identity formation. The White Hotel engages in the paradox that individuality is at least in part produced by a collective sense of being which may be a refuge when the differentiated sense of self is under severe attack. It is precisely the symbolic nature of this profoundly humanistic text not its supposed postmodernism, I would argue, that allows it to suggest the triumph of the individual human spirit in the face of collective annihilation. The postmodern label that has been attached to many of the texts I have dealt with here is inadequate at best. The trauma novel's view of subjectivity, in fact, is much closer to the modernist postulation of the importance of the integrity of the self in a disintegrating world than it is to the postmodern perspective. The modernist need for mending and the attempt to recover wholeness survives in...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.