Nostalgic Experiments Memory in Anne Carson’s Nox and Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams’ S.

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Sara Tanderup

Abstract

The article discusses a tendency towards “media nostalgia” in contemporary experimental literary works.Authors such as Jonathan Safran Foer, Reif Larsen, Anne Carson, Steven Hall, Umberto Eco, J.J. Abramsand Doug Dorst include images, drawing and photographs in their works, or they experiment with the visualand material qualities of writing and the book. The tendency can be explained as a reflection of the mediadevelopment: The experimental texts draw attention to the book in an age where it can no longer be takenfor granted. They recall an avant-garde aesthetics, but whereas the avant-garde is associated with ideas offuture and progress, the new texts generally focus on issues of memory and the past. I argue that they are alsoabout memory at a media level; “remembering” the book. I explore this tendency by analyzing Anne Carson’sNox (2009) and S. (2013) by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams. Both works recall the aesthetics of ‘rare books’,scrapbooks and artists’ books. They celebrate the book as an auratic object and as an old medium while alsoembracing the contemporary media culture. Paradoxically, they are thus characterized by a ‘manufacturedaura’ – yellowing pages to be bought anytime, anywhere at Amazon.com.

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