d literature. The need for a cultural and literary study of apocalypse at a world plagued by the looming disease of end-times imagination is of supreme importance to the researcher, and studying the skeletal aspects of the recently intensified phenomenon might help better understand the issue.
Both novels chosen in this research are written on the eve of twenty first century (Atonement written in 2001 and Solar in 2011), therefore, the researcher deems, they can best represent the non-fantastic, but a realistic aspect of the apocalyptism. There are no monsters, star wars or werewolves in these two novels, but there are great traces of the ordinary humanistic aspect of the end-time thought. The traumatic and post-traumatic characters of McEwan can also be the best representatives of the situation of man in this apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic world.
This fresh look at the Žižekian ideas and McEwan’s novels can also open new ways of interpretation toward both giant figures in literature and culture. A Žižekian reading of McEwan’s works with a cultural-psychoanalytical and even political approach can open new windows towards the precious works of the British author.
The researcher assumes that based on what was previously discussed, this thesis can bring about comprehensive answers to the following questions:
1) How does the Žižekian perception of ideology work in McEwan’s novels?
2) How does the Žižekian version of ideology affect the apocalyptic and post-traumatic characters in Ian McEwan novels?
3) What are the shared believes between the Žižekian theory of Living in the End Times and McEwan’s apocalyptic ideas inscribed in his novels?
4) How does the Žižekian Death Drive lead to the McEwanian Apocalypse Drive?
III. Review of Literature
McEwan’s two novels, Solar and Atonement, can be considered as the pillars of this thesis. Solar’s contributions to the end-time imagination as well as Atonement’s apocalyptic scenes were the key inspirations behind the whole body of this study. McEwan’s eloquent writing as well as deep understanding of literature and culture inscribed in the two novels can be the best motivation for every critic not to take simplistic looks towards his texts. The idea is also very much indebted to the Joe Wright’s fascinating movie, which can be considered as a model for every truthful and successful adaptation from a novel ever produced.
Living in the End Times (published in 2010) is the main source written by Žižek used in this thesis. One might claim this book to be a summarized version of all his previous books harmonized with the most recent socio-political realities of the world. This book helped this research step away from the common apocalyptic beliefs and delve deeper into the heart of the matter in relation to the current global crises. A close reading of this book can help any reader to take a meaningful distance from the ideological apocalyptic belief and to gain a better perception of the philosophy behind the current apocalyptic situation.
Sublime Object of Ideology (1989) can be called the first prominent book Žižek has authored. The researcher tried his best to rely on this book due to the fact that considering the prominence of Living in the End Times, one might claim these two main books best represent the turns and twists of Žižek’s philosophy. Žižek’s ideas are very playful and it might seem impossible to discern a viable version of his theories, but with the help of these two key books, along with other sources, the researcher might claim one can acquire an authentic perception of Žižekian theories.
Enjoy Your Symptom!: Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out (1992) was another key source to this thesis from which many of the quotations are extracted. Many of the Žižekian theories used in this thesis are also indebted to this book. This book is highly regarded in the perceptions of the theories of ideological Rituals, Subjectivity, the ways ideologies are manipulated in the modern era, the idea of pretence and the formation of belief in people’s minds. The use of movies and cartoons in elaborating Žižekian theories in this book was also a costly help for the researcher.
Žižek’s several lectures, interviews, and debates were the best sources for the researcher to facilitate a better perception of Žižekian theory, and also to acquire a general and unified understanding out of the philosopher’s contradictory assumptions. The researcher would like to list a number of websites and Youtube Channels providing him with precious video and audio files as well as the multimedia sources he had reviewed in the course of writing. The list follows as:
– Youtube, Slavoj Žižek Videos: This channel provides many Lectures and discussions by Žižek, but among all, videos like Slavoj Žižek (2013) “Karl Marx and Hegel”, Slavoj Žižek on “Apocalyptic Times”, Slavoj Žižek Vs Cornel West, Slavoj Žižek, Signs From The Future, Slavoj Žižek: Living in the End Times, Slavoj Žižek: A Lacanian Plea for Fundamentalism, Slavoj Žižek: Why Only an Atheist Can Believe, Slavoj Žižek (2013) Ecology Without Nature, Slavoj Žižek (2013) “God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse conversation with Jack Miller” were of immense use.
– Youtube: EGS Videos and European Graduate School website, titles including: Slavoj Žižek. The Interaction With the Other in Hegel. 2009, Slavoj Žižek. The Return To Hegel. 2009, Slavoj Žižek. Materialism and Theology. 2007, Slavoj Žižek. The Future of Europe. 2009, Judith Butler, Slavoj Žižek, Larry Rickels – Psychoanalysis 2006, Slavoj Žižek. Plea for Ethical Violence. Lecture. 2004, Slavoj Žižek. On Belief and Otherness. 2002, Slavoj Žižek. The Reflection of Life in Hegel. 2009, Slavoj Žižek. The Big Other and The Event of Subjectivity. 2012, Slavoj Žižek. The Buddhist Ethic and the Spirit of Global Capitalism. 2012, Slavoj Žižek. Confronting Humanity & The Post-Modern. 2009, Slavoj Žižek. Object a and The Function of Ideology. 2012.
IV. Methodology and Approach
The researcher is convinced that in order to study the new atmosphere of apocalyptism in 21st century literature, one must begin with a study of some relevant issues. The first question which might arise while studying the issue can be: how ideological is the issue? Therefore, a brief study of the Žižekian levels of ideology including 1) Doctrine, 2) Belief, and 3) Ritual seems crucial in order to explore the traces of ideologies at work in McEwan’s novels. The structure of belief in today’s world seems so complicated and crucial to this dissertation. The belief in the issue of apocalyptism is also touched upon by means of the same idea of levels of ideology.
Also, in order to study the structure of belief in characters and people, a study of the people as subjects seems necessary. The Žižekian idea of processual subjectivity is applied in this thesis and the characteristics of subject including lack and death drive are comprehensively developed in the subsequent segment of this dissertation. Death drive, it is claimed, can be counted as the preliminary characteristic of human psyche regarding his belief in apocalyptism. Thus, a great portion of this thesis is allocated to such issue.
The limited space of this MA dissertation did not allow the researcher to adopt an ontological framework and touch upon the historical backgrounds of the issue dating back to the initial stages of the civilization on to the Romantic era, and onto the contemporary world. Accepting the Žižekian proposal, taken from Karl Marx, that “the anatomy of man is the key to the anatomy of the ape” (Žižek, Living in the End Times 196), this research has been dedicated to the 21st century apocalyptism by the help of only two works of McEwan.
The death drive is developed to the apocalypse drive counting as one of the last attempts of the researcher to relate the end-time th
eories of Slavoj Žižek to the apocalyptic imagination of Ian McEwan. Finding affinities between the two prominent figures’ beliefs as well as looking for the traces of Žižekian-McEwanian apocalyptism in the two novels might help to shed a better light on the modern issue.
In the last segment of the dissertation, the researcher will examine McEwan’s characters’ psyche based on the theory of stages of grief developed by Kübler-Ross. This analysis will also form another approach to analyze McEwan’s apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic character.
Žižek is a critical theorist working in the traditions of Hegelianism, Marxism and Lacanian psychoanalysis. He has made contributions to political theory, film theory, and theoretical psychoanalysis. He writes on many topics including subjectivity, ideology, capitalism, fundamentalism, racism, tolerance, multiculturalism, human rights, ecology, globalization, the Iraq War, revolution, utopianism, totalitarianism, postmodernism, pop culture, cinema, political theology, and religion.
The spirit of McEwan’s novels require that any analysis on them must bear some tones of psychoanalysis. As a result, the researcher has adopted a Žižekian trend of Lacanian psychoanalytic approach to read the novels. Also, it seems impossible to the researcher to extract Marxist ideas of Žižek from his psychoanalytical theories. Thus, a combination of psychoanalytical, cultural-materialist and Marxist criticism is adopted in the research. The post-structural Lacanian analysis is also mingled with Hegelian idealist logic to add a compelling weight to the analysis.
V. Definition of Key Terms
The concept of Death Drive (Todestrieb) is initially vaguely introduced to psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) in his early works, but in his Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), Freud started to elucidate the subject in details. He used the mythological figures Eros and Thantatos to elaborate on his theory. Eros is a “tendency towards cohesion and unity”, whereas