A leap out of our biology: history, tautology and biomatter in DeLillo’s later fiction

Boxall, Peter (2018) A leap out of our biology: history, tautology and biomatter in DeLillo’s later fiction. Contemporary Literature, 58 (4). ISSN 0010-7484 (Accepted)

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Abstract

This essay suggests that one can detect a shift in the function of tautological forms in Don DeLillo’s post-millennial novels, a shift that is central to the ways in which he reconceives the relationship between consciousness, history and embodiment under 21st century conditions. DeLillo’s later work, it argues, is concerned with the possibility that the terms in which we have experienced and represented the human are shifting, in response both to the technological production of artificial life, and to the imminent threat of eco-catastrophe. The scantness of the novels since Underworld is, in part, a response to the perception that the historical forms in which we have narrated the human life world are reaching exhaustion. The essay traces the persistence of tautological utterances into the late work as a symptom of this exhaustion. But at the same time, it argues, DeLillo finds in the emptiness of tautological forms the means of producing nearly imperceptible historical and biomaterial possibilities – the stirring of a new and barely imaginable future.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
P Language and Literature > PS American literature > PS0360 Prose
Depositing User: Peter Boxall
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2018 15:55
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2018 15:55
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/74132

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