The OF Blog: Searching for discontinuities

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Searching for discontinuities

Just thinking about cultural/social discontinuities now, those "moments" in which it seems even longue durée can't explain how X has now become Y. In particular, I've found myself thinking about the infamous "Rites of Spring" and the cultural history of that title by Modris Eksteins. I am set to immerse myself (for the first time since 1997, I ought to note) in a more "historical" frame of mind and I can't help but to wonder what sorts of books, historical and fiction alike, that might have something to say about these perceived historical discontinuities.

Can anyone think of novels or non-fiction books in which there is a sense, whether it be embedded in a fictional story or revealed in a historical (meta)narrative, of such drastic shifts of "moment"? Braudel comes to mind and perhaps I need to read more of his work (only have read excerpts in the past), but are there others that I'm overlooking?


Anonymous said...

I love the Eksteins book

"Against The Day" springs to mind

Barry Unsworth's "Morality Play" -- I don't want to spoil it, but it has a powerful sense of being a little moment of cultural change that really transforms the way people understand the world.

tim said...

Embracing Defeat by John Dower covers the moment of the US occupation of Japan, and while it is less a Braudelian work, it does a very interesting job of looking at disjunctive experiences.

Another would be Patrick Chamoiseau's Texaco, a novel about the island of Martinique, and it embraces disjunction as its mode of story telling.

Jennifer Reid edited a collection of essays, Religion and Global Culture. All of the essays are about the disjunctions and possibilities of the colonial/post-colonial world as interpreted through the lens of the history of religions. Essays focus on the improvisational aspect of cultural contact.

Lsrry said...

Loved that Pynchon book, Felix. Might re-read that and other works of his during my Christmas Break, as I need at least a week for proper Pynchon digesting and it'd go down well with a holiday feast, no? :D

Haven't heard of the Unsworth, Dower, Chamoiseau, or Reid books, but those do sound promising. Thanks both of you for suggesting them to me :D

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