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Fading Into Unknowing: Gothic Postmemory in Ian McEwan’s Atonement

  • Ashlee Joyce
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter articulates how the recognizability of Gothic conventions interrogates the ethics of writing and reading trauma fiction. Ian McEwan’s Atonement metafictionally registers the ethical issues present for writers seeking to produce an aestheticized representation of the trauma of another. Specifically, Atonement employs a “metagothic” strategy to question the validity of cultural memory of traumatic events and to cast doubt on Briony’s assertion that she has written the novel in order to atone for her false accusation of her neighbour, Robbie, of the rape of her cousin Lola. The rules of Gothic convention to which Briony’s narration of the events of part one self-consciously conforms become symptomatic of Briony’s anxious desire to circumscribe the event within the organizing (and ethically dubious) system of literary convention.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashlee Joyce
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada

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