Writing and Terror: Don Delillo on the Task of Literature After 9/11

Law & Literature, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 277-302, 2007

Cleveland-Marshall Legal Studies Paper No. 07-133

27 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2007

Abstract

Over the past thirty years, Don DeLillo has become the novelist-laureate for our age of terror, exploring the inner life, cultural causes and symbolic significance of terrorism and terrorists of all stripes. He is therefore perhaps the ideal subject for a consideration of the status of literature after the disaster of September 11, 2001. Indeed, DeLillo himself published a moving essay shortly after 9/11 in which he posits cyber-capital and terrorism as competing world narratives and argues that it is left to us - writers, among others - to create the counternarrative. In this essay, I examine DeLillo's proposal through a reading of some of his recent novels against the background of Maurice Blanchot's thesis that literary writing is itself, in its essence, already terrorist. In particular, I attempt to show how DeLillo's novels suggest the affirmative possibility of a meaningful counternarrative that, without refuting Blanchot's conception of literature, still offers an (ambiguously) hopeful alternative view.

Keywords: literature, terrorism, DeLillo, Blanchot, law and literature

Suggested Citation

Thurschwell, Adam, Writing and Terror: Don Delillo on the Task of Literature After 9/11. Law & Literature, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 277-302, 2007; Cleveland-Marshall Legal Studies Paper No. 07-133. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1000453

Adam Thurschwell (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

Washington, DC

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