• “The past goes to sleep, and wakes up inside you”: Identity Crisis in Hassan Blasimʼs “The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes”

    Amel Abbady (see profile)
    CLCS 20th- and 21st-Century, CLCS Global Arab and Arab American, TC History and Literature, TC Postcolonial Studies, TC Psychology, Psychoanalysis, and Literature
    Political refugees, Iraq War (2003-2011), Assimilation (Sociology), Abjection in literature
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    This article examines “The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes,” the last of the fourteen stories that comprise Iraqi writer Hassan Blasimʼs collection The Corpse Exhibition. In “The Nightmares” Blasim is not concerned at all about depicting the reception of refugees in Europe. As evident in the title itself, what is central to the story is the psychological impacts of war on the individual. Drawing on Julia Kristevaʼs psychologically-informed theory of the abject, this article attempts to show how the central character in Blasimʼs short story situates his ethnic origin as an abject object that he should avoid by all means to be able to bury the traumatizing memories of the war. The article argues that, by situating the crisis of identity in the context of the protagonistʼs nightmares, Hassan Blasim manages to articulate the anxieties of exile and the complexity of identity construction particularly for traumatized individuals. Despite his constant denial and avoidance, the central character in the story, Carlos Fuentes, fails to neither construct a hybrid identity nor bury his former self.
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    Last Updated:
    11 months ago
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