Contemporary American Fiction

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Ernest Becker

Lawrence mentioned the works of Ernest Becker as a possible inspiration for Delillo’s White Noise.  Delillo affirmed the influence in correspondence with critic Tom LeClair, one of the early advocates of Delillo’s work.  Becker’s work, The Denial of Death, was influenced by, among others, Sigmund Freud and Soren Kierkegaard.  Delillo alludes to the title of one of Kierkegaard’s most famous works, Sickness Unto Death, toward the end of the novel when Babette answers Jack’s question about how she feels, “You mean am I sick unto death?  The fear hasn’t gone, Jack.”  Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher who attempted to reconcile reason with faith.  Though he is considered a proto-existentialist, he ultimately believed that faith could console mankind’s despair.  Do you think there is a similar possibility in White Noise?

Thanks for pointing out the similarities, Lawrence.  See everyone tomorrow,



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