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Title: The first thing that happens; the next thing that happens : fictional narrative and the terror of death
Author: Owens, Benadette Mary
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis consists of two related parts, which together present fictional narrative as a response to the terror of death. It begins with 'The First Thing that Happens', a critical reading of two novels each from authors William Maxwell ('They Came Like Swallows', 1937; 'So Long, See You Tomorrow', 1980) and Per Petterson ('In the Wake', 2007; 'I Curse the River of Time', 2010). The protagonists of these novels are examined in relation both to the existential and psychoanalytic concerns of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker (and their later development in Terror Management Theory), and the distinctive psychoanalysis of Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok. Becker's concepts of the "immortality project", the "vital lie of character", and "heroic status", together with Abraham and Torok's concepts of "introjection", "incorporation", and "unspeakable grief', reveal the largely covert and culturally embedded mechanisms of defence by which Maxwell and Petterson's characters sustain death-defying illusions. This first part of the thesis concludes by noting the binary function of narrative generation as both a confrontation with mortality and evidence of the subject's death-defying will. There then follows 'The Next Thing that Happens', a work of fiction that narrates a response to death terror through the story of its central character whose encounters with mortality have been radically constitutive of his identity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available