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Title: Silence and its tropes : a contemporary literary perspective : silence, voicelessness and estrangement in Richard Flanagan’s the sound of one hand clapping and David Malouf’s an imaginary life
Authors: Mifsud, Terence
Keywords: Flanagan, Richard, 1961-. Sound of one hand clapping -- Criticism and interpretation
Malouf, David, 1934-. Imaginary life -- Criticism and interpretation
Marginality, Social, in literature
Silence in literature
Issue Date: 2019
Citation: Mifsud, T. (2019). Silence and its tropes: a contemporary literary perspective: silence, voicelessness and estrangement in Richard Flanagan’s the sound of one hand clapping and David Malouf’s an imaginary life
Abstract: As the polar opposite to the uttered word, silence in its various forms of voicelessness, impaired articulation, or exclusion from political and cultural participation, can furnish powerful motifs for the literary treatment of geographical, cultural and linguistic estrangement. The condition of trauma, in particular, is seen to induce a rupture in the narrative of the self, causing deep alienation and the loss of capacity for self-expression. This study looks at two works of contemporary Australian fiction – Flanagan’s The Sound of One Hand Clapping and Malouf’s An Imaginary Life – with a view to examine the thematic value of silence within literary contexts characterized by social emargination, trauma and exile. In the case of Flanagan’s novel about Slovene immigrants in postwar Tasmania, the study will apply results from trauma theory to analyse the characterisation of the deeply traumatised individuals that appear in the novel. In the study of An Imaginary Life, the focus is on the exile as a locus of different forms of estrangement, showing how silence has transformative qualities which enable Ovid to reach a form of catharsis towards the end of the novel. In the final analysis, despite the obvious differences in plot, structure and literary style, both works evince the same preoccupations with estrangement, the cultural dominance of language and the colonialist category of ‘the other’. An important conclusion reached by this study concerns the nature of silence as a matrix for human deed and thought, whereby social and personal tensions are acted out and resolved.
Description: B.A.(HONS)ENGLISH
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2019
Dissertations - FacArtEng - 2019

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