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Will To Appear

Dante's Infernal Vision in Bret Easton Ellis's American Pscyho

Author

  • Paul Kraus

Summary, in English

This paper presents an opportunity for the uncertainty that has plagued the novel's criticism to appear as absences in the body of historical knowledge, particularly regarding the notion of life after death. Taking appearance (eg. proof of existence), as opposed to disappearance, as a universally accepted value allows this analysis to interrogate the novel's logic in relation to a variety of conventional systems whose very existence depends on the reproduction of their systems. The ineffectuality of Foucauldian disciplinary institutions in the novel establishes the threat of nonexistence. A significant relationship to Dante's Inferno is rendered, lending the appearance of language an 'enchanted' value through allusions to Dante's intentional invocation of Augustinian corporeal vision. The novel's metalanguage appears enchanted by the body of historical knowledge, particularly as the product of capitalism, discipline and Judeo-Christianity, and programmed by literary precursors William S. Burroughs, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Foregrounded by this complex network, an analysis of the novel’s first chapter demonstrates how an attention to appearance brings the language to life and draws the narrator, equally invested in appearance, into its realm of representation.

Summary, in English

This paper presents an opportunity for the uncertainty that has plagued the novel's criticism to appear as absences in the body of historical knowledge, particularly regarding the notion of life after death. Taking appearance (eg. proof of existence), as opposed to disappearance, as a universally accepted value allows this analysis to interrogate the novel's logic in relation to a variety of conventional systems whose very existence depends on the reproduction of their systems. The ineffectuality of Foucauldian disciplinary institutions in the novel establishes the threat of nonexistence. A significant relationship to Dante's Inferno is rendered, lending the appearance of language an 'enchanted' value through allusions to Dante's intentional invocation of Augustinian corporeal vision. The novel's metalanguage appears enchanted by the body of historical knowledge, particularly as the product of capitalism, discipline and Judeo-Christianity, and programmed by literary precursors William S. Burroughs, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Foregrounded by this complex network, an analysis of the novel’s first chapter demonstrates how an attention to appearance brings the language to life and draws the narrator, equally invested in appearance, into its realm of representation.

Department/s

Publishing year

2015

Language

English

Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)

Topic

  • Languages and Literatures

Keywords

  • Bret Easton Ellis
  • American Psycho
  • Literary Analysis
  • Critical Analysis
  • Deleuze
  • Foucault
  • Control Society
  • Discipline
  • William S. Burroughs
  • Dante
  • Augustine

Supervisor

  • Birgitta Berglund (FD)