Postmodernism in Atonement

  • Created by: nelliott
  • Created on: 28-09-21 19:26

What is post-modernism?

  • A reaction to modernism
  • Hard to define
  • Self-aware
  • Plays tricks on the reader
  • Takes the idea of fragmentation and narrative disruption even further
  • Metafiction (clearly calls to attention that the text is a story)
  • Intertextuality (references to other texts)
  • Pastiche (mimicking other texts, but not a comedic way)
  • It is used to describe certain characteristics of post-World War 2 literature
  • Postmodernists often question:

1.Why are we in this world?
2.Is there a presiding figure to make sense of all this, a god who in the end, despite making people suffer, wishes them well?

  • Postmodernists distrust the notion that there is only one truth
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Historical Contexts

  • Late capitalism
  • Globalisation
  • The Cold War
  • WW2, The Holocaust, The Atom Bomb
  • Rise of technology
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Intellectual Influences

• Frederic Jameson - The Crisis of Historicity

• Jean Francois Lyotard - The Decline of Metanarratives

• Michel Foucalt - Discourse, Ideology & Power

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The Cold War

•This ideological conflict defined the second half of the 20th century, dividing the world into binary camps.

•People thought in terms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, but there was incredibly huge suffering as the name of the ‘good’ side undermined certainties.

•The simplistic view of the world led to a more sceptical approach to the ideological thinking and faith in narratives that had been used to justify global actions.

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Postmodern features in Atonement

•Questions not only authorial authority, but also the consciousness of the mind, which distorts truth and history.

•It eagerly illustrates ‘how easy it was to get everything wrong’

•The structure of the narrative centres the conflict around the different perceptions of truth, facts and beliefs, and truth and illusion.

•It reflects on a smaller scale, the similarly written, similarly constructed history of the Second World War.

•Highlights how artificial writing is.

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