Writing and Terror: Don Delillo on the Task of Literature After 9/11
Law & Literature, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 277-302, 2007
27 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2007
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: Suggested Citation