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Title: Will Self and Zadie Smith’s depictions of post-Thatcherite London: Imagining traumatic and traumatological Space
Authors: Tew, P
Keywords: Trauma theory;Theorists and fiction;Will Self;Zadie Smith;Historical deferral;The traumatological;Post-9/11 narratives;Transgression;The sacrificial;Urban cartographies;Individual and collective pathologies;Suffering;Betrayal
Issue Date: 2014
Citation: Études britanniques contemporaines: Revue de la Société d’Études Anglaises Contemporaine, 47, 2014, Issue: The Imaginaries of Space.
Abstract: This essay considers theories of trauma and fiction, in particular by analysing two novels set in London, Will Self’s The Book of Dave and Zadie Smith’s NW, and argues that trauma’s apparent belatedness (rendering its origins as elusive and unattainable) is less important particularly post-9/11 than the ‘traumatological,’ or a sense of immediate, attributable potential threats permeating the social and cultural conditions. The essay explores how Self’s future dystopia with its dogmatic belief systems runs parallel with the present and how Dave ‘Tufty’ Rudman, insane after his divorce, creates a ranting text retrieved in the future by those founding a new monotheistic religion, Dävinanity. The Book of Dave’s pathological influence allows a satire of the blind faith which animates the extremism that permeates elements of extreme Islam and future fundamentalists in a largely flooded Ingerland (England). Smith’s novel largely concerns two friends living in London’s north-west suburbs, Leah Hanwell and Natalie (previously Keisha) Blake, bonded by a traumatic childhood event. This essay explores a literal and visceral cartography of these women’s different betrayals of their partners, their multiple acts of deceit, and their troubled inner lives grounded in nostalgia for a less privileged upbringing. Both Self’s and Smith’s London fictions incorporate insistently cartographies of suffering, charting the traumatic and traumatological realities of urban selfhood.
Appears in Collections:Dept of Arts and Humanities Research Papers

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