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Martin Amis and ‘the Nature of the Offence’: from Expressions of Outrage to the Experience of Scandal

Abstract : Martin Amis’s choice of topic for Time’s Arrow seems to confirm his reputation as a controversial figure and to turn the novel into material for explosive debate. By proposing a highly visual fictional account of the Shoah, the novel engages frontally with polemical critiques of artistic attempts at representing Nazi crimes. Beyond outraged assessments of visual representation where the Shoah is concerned, however, the novel invites us to question the notion of outrage itself, in its demand for verbal and ethical clarity. In its opacity, Time’s Arrow relinquishes the expression of outrage – a tone perhaps better suited to essays – to elicit scandal. Its denial of epistemological and linguistic transparency erects a stumbling block which threatens to anihiliate our faith in liberal humanist values, in time, and in language. Yet it does not simply turn us into anaesthetised spectators: visually reminding us of our responsibility as political and historical beings, fiction relies on its own devices to create an ethical experience of reading.
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Diane Leblond. Martin Amis and ‘the Nature of the Offence’: from Expressions of Outrage to the Experience of Scandal. Études britanniques contemporaines - Revue de la Société dʼétudes anglaises contemporaines, Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2013, ⟨10.4000/ebc.603⟩. ⟨hal-02947206⟩

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