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'Using hokku poet Bashō’s aesthetics of wandering, as defined by Thomas Heyd, I argue that, by detailing the excruciating pointlessness of work undertaken according to commands that take little or no account of their feasibility, Richard Flanagan’s novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (which takes its title from Bashō) transforms the features of this aesthetics into the lived experience of prisoners of war on the ‘line’. In doing so, Flanagan transfers Bashō’s aesthetics into a represented actuality through the privileging of subjectivity over identity and the dissolution of the body on the line. The three prongs to Bashō’s aesthetics are found in Flanagan’s novel. In this, Flanagan is identifying the complexity of meanings evident in the terminology of such aesthetics, rendering what appears positive in the context of Bashō’s poetry negative in its practical application as this is articulated through the prisoners’ wartime experiences. Rather than being formative, Flanagan’s novel suggests wartime experience has a complexly ‘opposite’ effect. This is apparent in the complications of identity represented in postwar terms as a disunity (rather than a coherent unity), as articulated through the use of spatial metaphors that reverse the formative intensities of subjectivity and body through symbolic acts of dispersal and dissolution.' (Publication abstract)

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Last amended 8 Aug 2016 13:12:01
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