Violence and Dystopia: Mimesis and Sacrifice in Contemporary Western Dystopian Narratives

Violence and Dystopia: Mimesis and Sacrifice in Contemporary Western Dystopian Narratives

by Daniel Cojocaru


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Violence and Dystopia is a critical examination of imitative desire, scapegoating and sacrifice in selected contemporary Western dystopian narratives through the lens of Rene Girard's mimetic theory. The first chapter offers an overview of the history of Western utopia/dystopia, with a special emphasis on the problem of conflictive mimesis and scapegoating violence, and a critical introduction to Girard's theory. The second chapter is devoted to J.G. Ballard's seminal novel Crash, Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club and Rant, and Brad Anderson's film The Machinist. It is argued that the car crash functions as a metaphor for conflictive mimetic desire and leads to a quasi-sacrificial crisis as defined by Girard for archaic religion. The third chapter focuses on the psychogeographical writings of Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd. Walking the streets of London, the pedestrian represents the excluded underside of the world of Ballardian speed. The walking subject is portrayed in terms of the expelled victim of Girardian theory. The fourth chapter considers violent crowds as portrayed by Ballard's late fiction, the writings of Stewart Home and David Peace's GB84 (2004). In accordance with Girard's hypothesis, the discussed narratives reveal the failure of scapegoat expulsion to restore peace to the potentially self-destructive violent crowds. The fifth chapter examines the post-apocalyptic environments resulting from failed scapegoat expulsion and uncontrolled mimetic conflict, as portrayed in Sinclair's Radon Daughters (1994), Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985) and Oryx and Crake (2003) and Will Self's The Book of Dave (2006).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781443876131
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Publication date: 06/01/2015
Pages: 335
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Daniel Cojocaru received his DPhil from Oxford University in 2011, and has taught English Literature at the Universities of Oxford and Zurich. His research focuses on contemporary fiction and film, literary theory, and literature and the Bible. He currently teaches English at the Kantonsschule Zurcher Oberland, Switzerland.

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