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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 15, 2014

“It’s About Being Connected”: Reframing the Network in Colum McCann’s Post 9/11 Novel Let the Great World Spin

  • Regina Schober


Colum McCann’s novel Let the Great World Spin (2009) is one of the rare responses to 9/11 which displays not a falling man but, quite the opposite, someone who manages to keep their balance. This paper reveals how the concept of network functions to enhance such a different reaction to the terror attacks, expressing a sense of coherence, balance, and reconciliation within the novel. As opposed to former network representations, such as in postmodern fiction, this novel no longer depicts human inability to cope with complexity, but rather partakes in re-defining cultural trauma while re-gaining national identity at a time of crisis. The idea of network portrayed and constructed within the narrative and symbolic level of this novel is optimistic, presenting the network as a figure of thought that transcends the dehumanizing tendencies of complex systems, foregrounding its potential for creating stability and meaningful relationships. The novel thus returns to a more traditional concept of network, one which carries the image back to the level of the individual, thereby installing an ultimate hope in man’s ability to cope with complexity, while at the same time evoking a traditional notion of human identity that grants the subject the chance to acquire autonomy, albeit in interdependence with and according to the rules of the network.

Online erschienen: 2014-03-15
Erschienen im Druck: 2012-10

© 2014 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.

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