Added: November 2, 2013 – Last updated: January 17, 2015


Author: Sally Bachner

Title: The Prestige of Violence

Subtitle: American Fiction, 1962-2007

Place: Athens, GA

Publisher: University of Georgia Press

Year: 2011

Pages: 172pp.

ISBN-10: 0820338893 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-10: 0820339105 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

ISBN-13: 9780820338897 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780820339108 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century, 21st Century | U.S. History | Representations: Literature


Link: Google Books (Limited Preview)

Link: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)


Author: Sally Bachner, English Department, Wesleyan University


  Acknowledgments (p. vii)
  Introduction. The Prestige of Violence: American Fiction, 1962-2007 (p. 1)
  One. Zembla in the New York Times: Pale Fire's Historical Violence (p. 30)
  Two. Monks and "the Mind of Watts": Vietnam in The Crying of Lot (p. 49)
  Three. Americanizing Vietnam in Mailer's The Armies of the Night (p. 72)
  Four. Veterans of Sex: Feminist Fiction and the Rise of PTSD (p. 88)
  Five. "Words generally only spoil things" Fantasy, Testimony, and Trauma in the Work of Philip Roth (p. 106)
  Six. "The hammers striking the page": Don DeLillo and the Violent Politics of Language (p. 123)
  Afterword. After the Aftermath: American Fiction since 2007 (p. 142)
  Notes (p. 145)
  Works Cited (p. 157)
  Index (p. 165)


»In The Prestige of Violence Sally Bachner argues that, starting in the 1960s, American fiction laid claim to the status of serious literature by placing violence at the heart of its mission and then insisting that this violence could not be represented.
Bachner demonstrates how many of the most influential novels of this period are united by the dramatic opposition they draw between a debased and untrustworthy conventional language, on the one hand, and a violence that appears to be prelinguistic and unquestionable, on the other. Genocide, terrorism, war, torture, slavery, rape, and murder are major themes, yet the writers insist that such events are unspeakable. Bachner takes issue with the claim made within trauma studies that history is the site of violent trauma inaccessible to ordinary representation. Instead, she argues, both trauma studies and the fiction to which it responds institutionalize an inability to address violence.
Examining such works as Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night, Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing, and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, Bachner locates the postwar prestige of violence in the disjunction between the privileged security of wealthier Americans and the violence perpetrated by the United States abroad. The literary investment in unspeakable and often immaterial violence emerges in Bachner’s readings as a complex and ideologically varied literary solution to the political geography of violence in our time.« (Source: University of Georgia Press)


Bloom, James D. Philip Roth Studies 9(2) (Fall 2013): 97-99. – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

Modestino, Kevin. »Speaking Violence.« Novel: A Forum on Fiction 47(3) (Fall 2014): 465-468. – Full Text: Duke University Press (Restricted Access)