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Contemporary Writing and the Politics of Space

Borders, Networks, Escape Lines

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David Walton and Juan Antonio Suárez

This collective volume explores questions of space in contemporary literary texts from a range of theoretical perspectives. In addition to mapping the «spatial turn» in literary and cultural studies, this volume also brings together studies that apply spatial theory to the analysis of literary texts. Contributors tackle a broad range of themes, including how prose fiction addresses spaces of intimacy, abjection, espionage, discipline, madness, post-human identities, post-communist cities, the architecture of dystopia, and coercive medical practices. In turn, these themes open up analysis to key areas within contemporary literary and cultural criticism, including the study of sexuality, politics, power, and identity; the configuration of urban, regional, and national spaces and borders; and the delineation of private and public domains. The contributors reflect on diverse authors from English-speaking cultures and focus on a variety of genres and periods while acknowledging recent research in space studies and offering original contributions to what has now become a thriving field.

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6 Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day: Sociopolitical Suspicion and Double Spaces of Espionage (Ana Rull Suárez)

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ANA RULL SUÁREZ

6    Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day: Sociopolitical Suspicion and Double Spaces of Espionage

ABSTRACT

In the atmosphere of heightened diffidence and political rivalry among European nations that started around 1890 and eventually led to the Great War, espionage began to emerge as an extremely sophisticated pursuit. Simultaneously, scientific development, seemingly promoted for the sake of human progress, was harnessed in the service of war interests and technologies of destruction, and knowledge became in this way intimately associated with the exercise of power, a conjunction – power-knowledge – that has been regarded as a linchpin of contemporary societies. This chapter shows how Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day depicts this complex historical conjuncture of pervasive deception and conflicted motives in the early decades of the twentieth century. In Pynchon’s work the ‘Eastern Question’ and the Balkan Wars show that imperial forces, often separated from centralized governments or states, promote genocidal violence and ethnic struggle in order to maintain their power over populations. Pynchon conjures up a hypothetical convergence between the Eastern Question in Europe and the United States’ consolidation of capital and state power in its western territories.

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