Andrew Smith
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Locating the self in the post-apocalypse
The American Gothic journeys of Jack Kerouac, Cormac McCarthy and Jim Crace
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This chapter argues that Jack Kerouac's On the Road provides a version of the 'road' which is echoed in later post-environmental apocalyptic narratives such as Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Jim Crace's The Pesthouse. Kerouac also elaborates a version of subjectivity which underpins these later exercises in American Gothic as they all attempt to theorize the relationship between the self and the environment through acts which take place on the frontier. The chapter shows how these texts argue for how the frontier, a type of liminal space like the road, needs to become inhabited by a model of the family which serves as the blueprint for the possibility of social and environmental renewal. The three texts On the Road, The Road and The Pesthouse are structurally very similar as they all involve journeys across blighted landscapes in search of meaning.

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