Date of Award
Prof. Veronika Fuechtner
Prof. Sam Moodie
This essay investigates the themes of home, homeland and belonging in Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Jenny Erpenbeck’s Heimsuchung. Both works encourage critical reflection on the nostalgia for Home, in exposing that the idea of such is all too often based on an ideological concept and social exclusion. Using Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the ‘Idyllic Chronotope', I identify the houses of both narratives as spaces that allow for the uncorrupted preservation of their families' values and traditions. However, as the concept of ‘home’ is embedded in their owners’ belief in national supremacy, their residencies are revealed as realms of collective, social ignorance and the exclusion of ethic, racial, and cultural others.
Heimsuchung and Atonement express their authors' recognition of the fundamental human longing for identity stabilization in a socio-cultural sphere: that is, for idyllic belonging. Yet, by remembering the individual fates of those who were socially excluded and deprived of their subjectivity, they both push forward a notion of the everlasting precariousness of the seemingly idyllic home.
Wirtz, Victoria, "The Idyllic Houses of Collective Trauma Reading Home and World War II in Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Jenny Erpenbeck’s Heimsuchung" (2022). Comparative Literature M.A. Essays. 12.
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