Forward to the Past: Narratives of Violence and Trauma in Jonathan Safran Foer's Novels
xmlui.mirage2.itemSummaryView.MetaDataShow full item record
Each of Jonathan Safran Foer’s three novels, discussed in this thesis, depicts the aftermath of a massive violent event and its effect on the life of an individual. In many respects, Foer creates a collage of historical traumas that the global community was exposed to throughout the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries. His debut novel Everything is Illuminated (2002) addresses the difficulties of the personalization of the Holocaust legacy; the second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005), which deals with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, shows the problems associated with narrating personal trauma and expressing the grief for the loss of loved ones; the latest novel Here I Am (2016) counterpoises a family’s marital crisis with an ongoing international military conflict in the Middle East. In these novels the representation of violence ranges from the graphic portrayals of physical mutilations as in episodes of Nazi torturing or descriptions of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, to depictions of an on-line battle. This thesis suggests that in his novels Foer presents an extended temporal and spatial perspective on violence in order to illustrate an individual’s response to well-known and well-documented cases of mass-violence. The three novels transform impersonal factual information about historical brutality into intimate and subjective testimonies and narratives about personal traumas. Foer’s characters try to cope with their personal tragedies and overcome the intergenerational continuum of trauma. At the same time, the author stresses the need to pass on knowledge and the truth about incidents of brutality to future generations.