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Date

5-14-2020

Description

The recent popularity of post-apocalyptic literature has led to the development of two informal schools of thought. The first is that post-apocalyptic literature serves as wish fulfillment. Reading impossible stories allows us to explore scenarios that may never happen in real life, which satisfies a basic desire for adventure. The second school of thought is that post-apocalyptic literature draws on reality; writing and reading these stories helps us to cope with actual catastrophes, which reveals a relationship between art and fear.

This study approached the split between wish fulfillment and coping mechanism as a strict binary, but analyzing Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Zone One by Colson Whitehead, and The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta shows that this binary does not hold: these novels bear different aspects of each theory, which prevents them from being designated as one or the other. A reconciliation between these binary theories is as follows: post-apocalyptic literature is based on a distorted reality; this distortion allows the writer and reader to explore impossible scenarios, while remaining grounded in actual events. This conclusion relies on the original suggestion that art in novels is a meditation on the role of art in our world; by looking at art in novels, it is possible to derive how the author believes art functions in the present day, thereby determining the purpose they intended their novel to serve.

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May 14th, 12:00 AM

Twenty-First Century Fear: Modern Anxiety as Expressed through Post-Apocalyptic Literature

The recent popularity of post-apocalyptic literature has led to the development of two informal schools of thought. The first is that post-apocalyptic literature serves as wish fulfillment. Reading impossible stories allows us to explore scenarios that may never happen in real life, which satisfies a basic desire for adventure. The second school of thought is that post-apocalyptic literature draws on reality; writing and reading these stories helps us to cope with actual catastrophes, which reveals a relationship between art and fear.

This study approached the split between wish fulfillment and coping mechanism as a strict binary, but analyzing Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Zone One by Colson Whitehead, and The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta shows that this binary does not hold: these novels bear different aspects of each theory, which prevents them from being designated as one or the other. A reconciliation between these binary theories is as follows: post-apocalyptic literature is based on a distorted reality; this distortion allows the writer and reader to explore impossible scenarios, while remaining grounded in actual events. This conclusion relies on the original suggestion that art in novels is a meditation on the role of art in our world; by looking at art in novels, it is possible to derive how the author believes art functions in the present day, thereby determining the purpose they intended their novel to serve.