Kristian Shaw
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Disinterring the English sublime
Haunted atmospherics in The Buried Giant
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For some critics, Ishiguro’s 2015 novel The Buried Giantmarked an unexpected turn to fantasy, serving as an urgent parable for a nation hung up on the former glories of its cultural past. In ‘Disinterring the English sublime: haunted atmospherics in The Buried Giant’, Kristian Shaw frames the novel in relation to the political climate of twenty-first-century Britain. Drawing on Ishiguro’s own comments relating to nationalism, populism and the recent rise in xenophobic political rhetoric, Shaw suggests that Ishiguro’s post-Arthurian landscape contains allusions to mythical constructions of Englishness which were also deployed during the 2016 EU referendum campaign. Despite being published in the months leading to the referendum, the novel carries a clear anticipatory logic, gesturing to the nationalist violence and cultural amnesia which would come to define the subsequent post-Brexit period. The chapter goes on to demonstrate how Ishiguro utilises the fantasy genre to expose the fallacious nature of our foundational myths and warn of the dangers in assuming a backward-looking national perspective to attend to our troubled present. In developing these ties, Shaw argues that The Buried Giant attempts to disrupt what he terms the ‘English sublime’, forcing us to consider ‘the internal ailments affecting the body politic’ and pointing towards the need for England to radically overhaul its comforting cultural imaginary.

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