Research on the relationship between the apocalyptic tradition and the literary imagination has typically espoused a temporal approach which in one way or another revolves around the order of events that precedes the end of history and the ensuing establishment of a new world. This study, by contrast, explores the spatial dimensions of apocalypse, more precisely the way in which the settings of the Book of Revelation are taken up by contemporary American writers and related to more general but also more contested concerns of territorial integrity and national identity. Influenced by Lefebvre’s theories, the study understands territory not simply as the container of certain structures and practices but also as the result of them, just as bird song is not framed by but rather constructive of territorial borders. It is the equivalent of such ‘songs’ that this book seeks to listen in on, i.e. the apocalyptic narratives that have been passed on through the centuries to define and sustain territory on a local, regional, and national level, and the way in which seven novels by Rick Moody, Toni Morrison, Jesmyn Ward, Cormac McCarthy, and Michael Chabon respond to them.
Table of Contents
1. A Spatial Approach to Apocalypse
2. "That Theory of Paradise": Rick Moody’s Suburban Apocalypse
3. "A City Better than Perfect": Harlem as the New Jerusalem in Toni Morrison’s Jazz
4. McCarthy’s Sourceless Apocalypse in Blood Meridian and The Road
5. Out of the Pit: Southern Apocalypse and the Female Body in Ward’s Salvage the Bones.
6. The Story is Telling Us: Apocalyptic Geopolitics in Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Anna Hellén is an associate professor at Borås University, Sweden. She has previously held positions at Gothenburg University and Lund University in addition to a visiting fellowship at Harvard University made possible by a grant from the Sweden-America Foundation. Her main research fields are American nineteenth-century literature, particularly Herman Melville, and contemporary American literature.