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Two rounds, two dates and one photograph: “the disaster that has already taken place” in Let the Great World Spin

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ID: <10670/1.m7q6bm>


This article looks at the way Colum McCann, in which the vast world continues its folding race (2009), constructs his novel with two dates: while the intrigue essentially takes place on 7 August 1974, the date on which a funeral passing through the sky between the two twin towers of the World Trade Center was inadvertently performing, the reader can only supersede that of the fall of the same two towers in 2001, and assume that Mc Cann, in transposing New York in 1974, seeks, at the same time, to evoke a trauma present through previous trauma, and to propose that it be beaten by means of a history where resorption is still possible. Using the concept of ‘fear of what has already happened’, developed in his last article by Donald Winnicott and taken up by Roland Barthes in several of his books, this work analyses this ‘new trauma language’, one of the novel’s characters, and focuses on the novel’s use of a photograph: referring to both 1974 and 2001, that photograph involves the character who looks at it, like the reader, to hold his breath in front of the disaster, which has already taken place, seized by fear of having it repeated on another, earlier date, which he knows will not come back.

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