Edited by Jean-Michel Ganteau & Susana Onega


Drawing on a variety of theoretical approaches including trauma theory, psychoanalysis, genre theory, narrative theory, theories of temporality, cultural theory, and ethics, this book breaks new ground in bringing together trauma and romance, two categories whose collaboration has never been addressed in such a systematic and in-depth way. The volume shows how romance strategies have become an essential component of trauma fiction in general and traumatic realism in particular. It brings to the fore the deconstructive powers of the darker type of romance and its adequacy to perform traumatic acting out and fragmentation. It also zooms in on the variations on the ghost story as medium for the evocation of trans-generational trauma, as well as on the therapeutic drive of romance that favors a narrative presentation of the working-through phase of trauma. Chapters explore various acceptations and extensions of psychic trauma, from the individual to the cultural, analyzing narrative texts that belong in various genres from the ghost story to the misery memoir to the graphic novel. The selection of primary sources allows for a review of leading contemporary British authors such as Peter Ackroyd, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Graham Swift, Sarah Waters and Jeanette Winterson, and of those less canonical such as Jackie Kay, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Justine Picardie, Peter Roche and Adam Thorpe.


Introduction Susana Onega and Jean-Michel Ganteau

Part I. Ghost Stories, Repetition and the Transmission of Trauma 

1. « The Past Won’t Fit into Memory without Something Left over »: Pat Barker’s Another World, in between Narrative Entropy and Working Through Jean-Michel Ganteau

2. Hauntology as Compromise between Traumatic Realism and Spooky Romance in Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger Georges Letissier

3. Personal Trauma, Romance and Ghostly Traces in Justine Picardie’s Daphne Rosario Arias

Part II. Narratives of Distress and Individual Trauma

4. Romance, Trauma and Repetition: Testing the Limits of Love Lynne Pearce

5. Some Versions of Romance Trauma as Generated by Realist Detail in Ian McEwan’s AtonementJ. Hillis Miller

6. Purloining the Image of Trauma: Trauma, Photography, Testimony in Peter Roche’s Unloved (2007) Frédéric Regard

Part III. Collective Trauma, History and Ethics

7. Strangers to Ourselves: The Quest for the Self in Martin Amis’ Trauma Fictions Ángeles de la Concha

8. Individual Choice and Responsibility for the Other: Two Ethical Paths in the Traumatic Realism of Jeanette Winterson’s and Graham Swift’s Postmodernist Romances Christian Gutleben

9. « And to defeat that shadow… he had to take it in homeopathically, in minute quantities of conscious reparation »: Adam Thorpe’s Unsentimental Historical Romances Maria Grazia Nicolosi 10. Greek Romance, Alternative History and Political Trauma in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen Andrés Romero-Jódar

Part IV. Therapeutic Romance 

11. From Traumatic Iteration to Healing Narrativisation inShalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie: The Therapeutic Role of Romance Anne-Laure Fortin-Tournès

12. Checking Out: Trauma and Genre in Ian McEwan’s The Child in Time Brian Diemert

13. « Redeemed, Now and For Ever »: Traumatic and Therapeutic Realism in Peter Ackroyd’s The House of Doctor Dee Jakob Winnberg