(Re-)Writing the End: Apocalyptic Narratives in the Postmodern Novel
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis investigates the relationship between the apocalyptic narrative and the postmodern novel. It explores and builds on Patricia Waugh‟s hypothesis in Practising Postmodernism: Reading Modernism (1992) which suggests that that the postmodern is characterised by an apocalyptic sense of crisis, and argues that there is in fact a strong relationship between the apocalyptic and the postmodern. It does so through an exploration of apocalyptic narratives and themes in five postmodern novels. It also draws on additional supporting material which includes literary and cultural theory and criticism, as well as historical theory. In using the novel as a medium through which to explore apocalyptic narratives, this thesis both assumes and affirms the novel‟s importance as a cultural artefact which reflects the concerns of the age in which it is written. I suggest that each of the novels discussed in this thesis demonstrates the close relationship between the apocalyptic and the postmodern through society‟s concern over the direction of history, the validity of meta-narratives, and other cultural phenomenon, such as war, the development of nuclear weaponry, and terrorism. Although the scope of this thesis is largely confined to the historical-cultural epoch known as postmodernity, it also draws on literature and cultural criticism from earlier periods so as to provide a more comprehensive framework for investigating apocalyptic ideas and their importance inside the postmodern novel. A number of modernist writers are therefore referred to or quoted throughout this thesis, as are other important thinkers from preceding periods whose ideas are especially pertinent. The present thesis was researched and written between March 2010 and August 2011 and is dedicated to all of those people who lost their lives in the apocalyptic events of the February 22nd Christchurch earthquake.