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Picture of Violence and Dystopia

Violence and Dystopia

Mimesis and Sacrifice in Contemporary Western Dystopian Narratives

Author(s): Daniel Cojocaru

Book Description

Violence and Dystopia is a critical examination of imitative desire, scapegoating and sacrifice in selected contemporary Western dystopian narratives through the lens of René Girard’s mimetic theory. The first chapter offers an overview of the history of Western utopia/dystopia with a special emphasis on the problem of conflictive mimesis and scapegoating violence, and a critical introduction to Girard’s theory. The second chapter is devoted to J.G. Ballard’s seminal novel Crash (1973), Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club (1996) and Rant (2007), and Brad Anderson’s film The Machinist (2004). It is argued that the car crash functions as a metaphor for conflictive mimetic desire and leads to a quasi-sacrificial crisis as defined by Girard for archaic religion. The third chapter focuses on the psychogeographical writings of Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd. Walking the streets of London the pedestrian represents the excluded underside of the world of Ballardian speed. The walking subject is portrayed in terms of the expelled victim of Girardian theory. The fourth chapter considers violent crowds as portrayed by Ballard’s late fiction, the writings of Stewart Home, and David Peace’s GB84 (2004). In accordance with Girard’s hypothesis, the discussed narratives reveal the failure of scapegoat expulsion to restore peace to the potentially self-destructive violent crowds. The fifth chapter examines the post-apocalyptic environments resulting from failed scapegoat expulsion and mimetic conflict out of control, as portrayed in Sinclair’s Radon Daughters (1994), Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and Oryx and Crake (2003), and Will Self’s The Book of Dave (2006).

Hardback

ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-7613-1
ISBN-10: 1-4438-7613-5
Date of Publication: 01/06/2015
Pages / Size: 335 / A5
Price: £52.99
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Biography

Daniel Cojocaru received his DPhil from Oxford University in 2011. He has taught English Literature at the Universities of Oxford and Zurich. His research focuses on contemporary fiction and film, literary theory, and literature and the Bible. He currently teaches English at the Kantonsschule Zürcher Oberland and the Neue Schule Zürich, Switzerland.