Literature of the Global Age

A Critical Study of Transcultural Narratives

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About the Book

In an age of world citizenship, literary scholarship is focusing increasingly on texts which communicate effectively over cultural lines. Advocating a planetary approach to contemporary literature, this critical text examines eight novels from eight cultures. The writers discussed are Julian Barnes, Magda Szabo, Abraham B. Yehoshua, Ian McEwan, W.G. Sebald, Murakami Haruki, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Azar Nafisi. Focusing on the authors’ encouragement to meditate on life’s most pressing issues, the essays here invite us to reevaluate postmodernism as a current category.

About the Author(s)

Maurizio Ascari is a senior lecturer in English Literature at the University of Bologna. He has published broadly on crime fiction, the process of canon formation, world literature and travel writing.

Bibliographic Details

Maurizio Ascari
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-5959-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8535-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgments 1

Introduction 5

For a Planetary Culture 7

Transcultural Narratives 11

Through the Green Line 14

Around Postmodernism 17

After 9/11 21

Beyond Postmodernism 25

The Dialectics Between Words and Reality 30

Narratives of Responsibility 33

Morals as Transgression 37

1. Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot (1984) 41

Relics of the Past 41

Rethinking History 44

The Language of Parrots 46

Avatars of Truth 49

2. Magda Szabó, The Door (1987) 52

Behind the Door 53

Emotions, Thought and Ethics 55

An Epic of Emotions 56

Against Orthodoxy 59

From Ethics to Aesthetics 62

The Tragedy of Betrayal 63

3. Abraham B. Yehoshua, Mr. Mani (1990) 66

Back to the Bible 68

The Shadow of the Akedah 72

Looking for a Father 75

Escaping from History 76

The Other Within 79

4. Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001) 82

The Dangers of the Imagination 83

Eroticism and Forgery 86

Night into Nightmare 88

War Hells 89

Criminal and Mourner 90

A Book on Books 92

5. W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz (2001) 95

Narratives of Exile 96

Architectures of Suffering 98

Mirroring Lives 102

Ghosts of Memory 104

On the Verge of the Abyss 107

6. Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (2002) 110

Rewriting the Enigma of Oedipus 111

Life on the Shore 113

The Possible Story of Miss Saeki 116

Nakata versus Johnnie Walker 118

Into the Labyrinth 120

7. Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated (2002) 124

One Novel, Two Narratives 126

Heart of Darkness 129

Beyond the Tragic 131

Blindness and Insight 134

Postmemory Novels 136

8. Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003) 139

Back to Tehran 139

Life in Black 141

The Politics and Poetics of Identity 143

Narratives of the Iranian Diaspora 146

A Heated Critical Debate 148

Language and Democracy 151

9. Conclusion 154

Traveling with Mr. Bean 154

Bearing Witness 157

Inner Frontiers 162

Narratives and Remediation 163

Grasping Complexity 165

Notes 167

Bibliography 181

Index 197