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Gatsby ’s Ghost: Post-Traumatic Memory and National Literary Tradition in Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland

Gatsby ’s Ghost: Post-Traumatic Memory and National Literary Tradition in Joseph O’Neill’s... K A T H E R I N E V. S N Y D E R oseph O'Neill's Netherland (2008) opens with its narrator's disclosure of the unexpected origins of the word "aftermath," a key term in our contemporary lexicon of trauma: . . . I find it hard to rid myself of the feeling that life carries a taint of aftermath. This last-mentioned word, somebody once told me, refers literally to a second mowing of grass in the same season. You might say, if you're the type prone to general observations, that New York City insists on memory's repetitive mower--on the purposeful postmortem that has the effect, so one is told and forlornly hopes, of cutting the grassy past back to manageable proportions. For it keeps growing back, of course. (4) By this definition, the first-person narration that composes Netherland qualifies as an "aftermath," as a "purposeful postmortem" that discloses the equal but opposite impossibilities of remembering and forgetting the past. In attempting to hold the "grassy past" in check, this "second mowing" encourages its regrowth; "memory's repetitive mower" produces the past precisely by trying to hold it back. In what follows, I will argue, moreover, that http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Gatsby ’s Ghost: Post-Traumatic Memory and National Literary Tradition in Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland

Contemporary Literature , Volume 54 (3) – Nov 25, 2013

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Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin.
ISSN
1548-9949
Publisher site
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Abstract

K A T H E R I N E V. S N Y D E R oseph O'Neill's Netherland (2008) opens with its narrator's disclosure of the unexpected origins of the word "aftermath," a key term in our contemporary lexicon of trauma: . . . I find it hard to rid myself of the feeling that life carries a taint of aftermath. This last-mentioned word, somebody once told me, refers literally to a second mowing of grass in the same season. You might say, if you're the type prone to general observations, that New York City insists on memory's repetitive mower--on the purposeful postmortem that has the effect, so one is told and forlornly hopes, of cutting the grassy past back to manageable proportions. For it keeps growing back, of course. (4) By this definition, the first-person narration that composes Netherland qualifies as an "aftermath," as a "purposeful postmortem" that discloses the equal but opposite impossibilities of remembering and forgetting the past. In attempting to hold the "grassy past" in check, this "second mowing" encourages its regrowth; "memory's repetitive mower" produces the past precisely by trying to hold it back. In what follows, I will argue, moreover, that

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Nov 25, 2013

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