Trauma and Survival in Contemporary Fiction

University of Virginia Press, 2002 - : 266
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In an exploration of how contemporary fiction narratives represent traumathat response to events so overwhelmingly intense that normal responses become impairedLaurie Vickroy engages a wealth of the twentieth centurys most striking literature. Toni Morrisons Beloved and Jazz, Marguerite Durass The Lover, Dorothy Allisons Bastard out of Carolina, Jamaica Kincaids The Autobiography of My Mother, and Larry Heinemanns Pacos Story, among others, are the source of Vickroys study investigating the complex relationship between sociocultural influences and intimate personal relations portrayed in trauma fiction and how those portrayals direct this difficult material to readers.

Vickroys study is unique in its use of trauma, postcolonial, and object relations theories to illuminate the cultural aspects of traumatic experience that shape relationships, identity formation, and the possibilities for symbolization. Vickroy argues that contemporary trauma narratives are indeed personalized responses to this centurys emerging awareness of the catastrophic effects on the individual psyche of wars, poverty, colonization, and domestic abuse. She examines these texts as postcolonial attempts to rearticulate the lives and voices of marginalized people, to reject Western conceptions of the autonomous subject, and to recognize the complex negotiations of multicultural social relations.

Trauma is a compelling and evocative topic in the contemporary world and as reflected in its literature. In unraveling traumas effects, the texts studied in Trauma and Survival in Contemporary Fiction reveal the intricacies of power and the relationship between societys demands and the individuals psychological well-being.

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 (2002)

Laurie Vickroy is Associate Professor of English at Bradley University.