<i>I, the Divine</i> and <i>The Bullet Collection</i>

Syrine Hout

in Post-War Anglophone Lebanese Fiction

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780748643424
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780748676569 | DOI:
I, the Divine and The Bullet Collection

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This chapter deals with personal trauma in the context of collective trauma or war neurosis. Drawing on recent theoretical and applied studies of trauma literature by Cathy Caruth, Kai Erikson, Leigh Gilmore, Dominick LaCapra, Laurie Vickroy, and Anne Whitehead, it juxtaposes two first-person narratives – Rabih Alameddine's I, the Divine: A Novel in First Chapters (2001) and Patricia Sarrafian Ward's The Bullet Collection (2003) – whose narrative styles, marked by indirection, fragmentation, and temporal disorientation, bear the marks of trauma fiction. They reveal the physical and emotional scars of war (the latter in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder) sustained by two female protagonists – both half-Lebanese and half-American – who went abroad and wrote their cathartic memoirs to reach a measure of self-healing. It demonstrates how each author, through his or her female protagonist, uses traumatic textual markers, notably the concept of ‘belatedness’, to deliver a covert critique of the Lebanese policy of public amnesia, and how this project of transcribing individual pain as a reminder of the traumatising past is waged belatedly yet fiercely by war survivors who were children or teenagers when the war started. Lebanon, although much loved by both protagonists, is seen through a critical lens which makes a possible return problematic, albeit not impossible.

Keywords: Rabih Alameddine; Patricia Sarrafian Ward; I, the Divine; The Bullet Collection; trauma fiction; post-traumatic stress disorder; memoir; amnesia; belatedness

Chapter.  11479 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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