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Title: Narrative as complicity : atrocity, culpability, and failures of witnessing in W.G. Sebald and Kazuo Ishiguro
Author: Stacy, Ivan
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the nature of complicity and its relationship to narrative in the novels of W.G. Sebald and Kazuo Ishiguro. The effects of atrocity have been addressed in a significant body of scholarship which focusses on victimhood and trauma: a strand of work identifying and examining representations of perpetrators is also emerging. However, comparatively little research exists on the representation of complicity , a central concern of both Sebald and Ishiguro, in literary texts. This thesis therefore seeks to address the ways in which complicity originates, and , drawing on the attempts to theorise witnessing and testimony conducted by Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub, the ways in which narrative may act to perpetuate or deny such complicities. The thesis examines complicity on three levels. Firstly, it identifies the ways in which the authors' choice of protagonists permits an examination of complicity. Both Sebald and Ishiguro employ narrators who occupy intermediate positions, being subject to history, but possessing sufficient agency to contribute to the discourses and structures that shape the historical forces out of which atrocity grows. The first use of first person narration also makes visible a second form of complicity, which is that of the protaginists' denials of culpability. Both writers are concerned with the way I which narrative may deny or obfuscate culpability in historical events, and their use of first person narrations allows them to explore this potential. Finally, I argue that both authors display an awareness that complicity may be entered into through the acts of reading and interpretation, and as a result they employ narrative form to encourage reflexive and critical modes of reading, which in turn promote engagement with narrative as an ethical mode of witnessing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available