The Illuminating Power of Fiction: A Reading of A.L. Kennedy’s Day, Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated.
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Can fiction contribute to history? Through a reading of A.L. Kennedy’s Day, Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, this thesis explores how three contemporary novels, written by authors who belong to the so-called post-memorial generation, provide perspectives that together form a significant contribution to the history of WWII. The thesis will look closer at scholars like Hayden White, Stephen Greenblatt and Michael Payne’s thoughts on the important relationship between history and language. In the sub-chapters on the truth of fiction and narrative, the thesis makes use of H. Porter Abbott, Mieke Bal, Uri Margolin and Gerard Genette’s thoughts and theories, to highlight and properly examine the literary tools used in the particular discourse of the novels in order to contribute with new perspectives on WWII. The thesis will also look closer at writings by Angus Calder and Paul Fussel to explain how war myths and post-war identities have been shaped by misrepresentation, and Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub's discussion on testimony has been included to address Holocaust’s significant impact on trauma and testimony in the novels. Nicolas Abraham and Mária Török’s definition of "trans-generational haunting" will also be discussed to further account for the effect the war has had, and continues to have, on the following generations.
Master's thesis in Literacy studies