Surrealpolitik

Surrealpolitik: Literature after 9/11

Authors: Ann Keniston, Jeanne Follansbee Quinn

Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge (2013)

Quick Summary

A collection of writings on post-9/11 literature

Quotes

There are 4 quotes currently associated with this book.

Art Spiegelman's influential 2004 graphic novel In the Shadow of No Towers enacts the tension between the literal and the figurative quite starkly. On the one hand, the book is bound to the experience of 9/11 and its aftermath; its words and images recount Spiegelman's physical and emotional responses on that day and afterward. But it also remains separate from this lived experience:

Spiegelman explicitly interrogates the "facts" and "reality" of what happened, and the text's distinctive visual and verbal repetitions insist on its status as an imaginative representation of lived experience. Spiegelman's work thus insists? and it is similar in this way to much 9/11 literature? on the space between the real and the imagined, between image and trope, and between the private realm of memory and the public realm of history. 9/11 literature impels us to see these spaces even as it forces them together; it consistently uses the literal to deconstruct the symbolic and the reverse. It thus offers a kind of partial, awkward bridge between life and language. To adapt a term that Charles Lewis's chapter in this volume draws from Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, 9/11 literature works as a prosthesis, an awkward substitute for and attempt to compensate for the unrepresentable. (page 1-2)

[From chapter: Introduction by Keniston and Quinn]
Tags: [Politics & Novels, Terror, Literary/Poetic]
If literature expresses what remains unrepresentable about 9/11, it also raises persistent questions about how we interpret and represent 9/11, questions precipitated by debates within and outside the United States about the "war on terror." In the years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, with early national unity dissipated and global sympathy foundering in the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, American perspective on the attacks has continued to evolve. Suspicion about the Bush administration's attempts to link Iraq, Al Qaeda, and September 11 -- coupled with an enduring sense of mourning for the losses of that day -- have led to political and historical frameworks for 9/11 that go beyond the initially articulated binary of "us" and "them." This struggle to speak about the meaning of 9/11 is reflected in the highly varied and ever-growing range of literary responses considered in this volume. Fiction and poetry by prominent writers, including Don DeLillo, Ian McEwan, Philip Roth, John Updike, Louise Glück, Frank Bidart, and Robert Pinsky, have contributed to and complicated on-going conversations among political commentators and cultural critics about the meaning and uses of 9/11. By placing literary texts within this cultural and political context, Literature after 9/11 defines literature's perspective on 9/11, as well as on the relationship between politics and aesthetics, and between history and narrative. (page 2)

[From chapter: Introduction by Keniston and Quinn]
Tags: [Politics & Novels, Terror, Literary/Poetic]
The volume does not offer a single point of view on 9/11; instead, its chapters define a new body of literature -- literature after 9/11 -- that reveals the instability of 9/11 as an event and the ways that literature contests 9/11's co-option for narrowly political ends. Because the literary works examined here engage self-reflexively with frameworks for interpreting 9/11 -- as well as with attempts to represent the events themselves -- the chapters in Literature after 9/11 depict a passage from raw experience to representation. In short, the works examined in Literature after 9/11 reveal the tension between private experience and the necessarily social means for representing it. (page 3)
Tags: [Politics & Novels, Terror, Literary/Poetic]
[T]he history of literary representations of 9/11 can be characterized by the transition from narratives of rupture to narratives of continuity. (page 3)

[From chapter: Introduction by Keniston and Quinn]
Tags: [Politics & Novels, Terror, Literary/Poetic]