Their Country, Our Culture

Steven Belletto

in No Accident, Comrade

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199826889
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932382 | DOI:
Their Country, Our Culture

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Chapter six argues that many of the themes and concerns that preoccupied thinkers during the Cold War persist after 1989, a persistence that it visible both in the ways the conflict is explicitly thematized, and in the ways that chance is tied to the sorts of narrative concerns animated by the Cold War. It begins with a discussion of Paul Auster’s writing, which is concerned with questions of chance and coincidence. By reading Auster in light of the preceding chapters, it becomes clear that his preoccupation with chance and his metafictional tendencies are related. From Auster’s writing, the chapter analyzes Chang-Rae Lee’s novel Native Speaker (1995), which brings tropes of accident and espionage into the present in order to analyze causal systems underwritten by the Cold War. The chapter ends with a look at My Life in CIA (2005), by Harry Mathews, a long-time expatriate and the only American member of the French avant-garde literary group, Oulipo. I show how the book turns on questions of chance and coincidence to show, in retrospect, their thematization was of a piece with the fabric of Cold War logic.

Keywords: legacies of the Cold War; Cold War in 1990s literature; Paul Auster; The Music of Chance (1990); Chang-Rae Lee; Native Speaker (1995); Harry Mathews; My Life in CIA (2005)

Chapter.  8724 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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