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Making sense of responsibility in works of metafiction

Ahmed, Ayesha Iftikhar; (2020) Making sense of responsibility in works of metafiction. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on metafictional works that re-examine responsibility in the light of fiction’s relation to death: Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and László Nemes’ Holocaust film, Son of Saul. Renowned for treating “reality” as potentially fictive, metafiction comes up against the inaccessibility of death in these works, which reflect on the limitations of fiction. As demonstrated in this study, the death-fiction tension takes a noticeably radical form in these works, in which “fiction”, not merely literary but inclusive of problematic interpretations, lies and prevarication, is given a violent dimension. Via this plurality, “fiction” acquires a death-giving dimension and gives rise to disquieting versions of responsibility. On account of “fiction” in the interpretative sense, the reader/viewer is implicated in these versions, in which interpreting the other is depicted as poised on empirical violence. Reading, held out in the works as a possible mitigation of the relation between interpretative and actual violence, is explored in this study with respect to the ethical value it confers on the versions of responsibility. These versions, which remain groundless due to the pervasiveness of fiction, are argued as critical accounts, in the double sense, in that they reflect in conflicted ways on the ethical relevance of fiction. The death-giving role of fiction, traditionally overlooked in favor of its more life-affirming qualities, is read in the light of, and is argued as a fleshing out of, Jacques Derrida’s The Gift of Death, which tackles responsibility from the perspective of mortality and reads it in relation to literature.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Making sense of responsibility in works of metafiction
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > CMII
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10090606
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