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Body and Time in Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist

Chiara Patrizi    Università di Bologna / Università degli Studi di Trieste / Università Ca' Foscari Venezia    



This research looks at Don DeLillo’s shortest novel by considering body and time as the two factors that are essential in order to understand the existential path that the book outlines. The aim is to provide a new interpretation of the novel, able to highlight its real-life concern for traumatic mourning, particularly in response to the suicide of an intimate. The literary study focuses on the journey started by the protagonist, the body artist Lauren Hartke, after the suicide of her husband, a journey that goes through the uncanny spaces which shape our existence as human beings. In fact, in The Body Artist DeLillo registers the impact of loss as the ‘ghostin’ of the living, not the dead, who are on their own, with whatever arts are at their disposal to live what cannot be explained or shown, discovered or imagined – only known. The analysis of the novel examines how and why does the work of addressing trauma go through the body, as much as the mind, and investigates how time comes to be the spatial dimension where our inner self moves in order to re-gain possession of itself. As a result, it is no surprising that Body Time is also the title of Lauren’s latest performance: that is, ‘Body’ and ‘Time’ are the two elements she needs to renew herself, the two places she must travel through if she wants to live again. Two places that end up in being one only.

Sept. 1, 2015

Keywords: Body and timeReal-life concern for traumatic mourningTime as spatial dimensionDon DeLillo’s shortest novel

Copyright: © 2015 Chiara Patrizi. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.