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Fugue State: Memories Without Borders and The Fugueur as Flaneur in Teju Cole's Open City
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Published in 2011, Teju Cole’s second novel Open City tells the story of one year of walking in New York and Brussels narrated from the perspective of the novel’s first-person narrator, Julius. In this manner the reader is offered ample insights into Julius’s thoughts and memories. This is a narrative based on the memories of the protagonist as well as the memories shared by the people he meets, which together create a narrative “fugue” that both hides and illuminates the central conflicts of the novel. Julius can be described both as fugueur (someone who is in a dissociated mental state and travels compulsively) and flaneur (someone who walks the streets and is obsessively observant), two concepts of ambiguity. This paper will analyze the main character’s development through three stages: reunion, repression, and reconstruction, in relation to Walter Benjamin’s reading of the flaneur as both criminal and detective, and Ian Hacking’s book on fugueurs in the 19th century. Furthermore, this memory-based narrative can be read in relation to Wai Chee Dimock’s idea of deep time, as well as Rothberg’s view of memory as multidirectional and productive, two theories that can be linked to “mad” travelling and obsessive observation. This paper tries to bring clarity to this opaque novel of solitude and repression, and sort out the clues given by the narrator. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 19 p.
Keyword [en]
Fugue; flaneur; Open City; Dimock; Rothberg; Cole; deep time; multidirectional memory; Hacking
National Category
Humanities Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-77564OAI: diva2:533983
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2014-01-22 Created: 2012-06-14 Last updated: 2014-01-22Bibliographically approved

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