Mortality in Will Self's Fiction

An academic study
Will Self, 'How The Dead Live'

Joe Barton, a final year undergraduate student at Newcastle University, speculates on mortality and the Corpse in the fiction of British writer Will Self:
Death, according to Jacque Lynn Foltyn, has replaced sex as the 21st century’s definitive taboo. While the valance has long since been ripped away from the collective Victorian piano leg, the corpse, meanwhile, has become primed with symbolic explosives, threatening the very foundations of society built upon the mythology of modernist progress. Be it the computer-generated cadavers of CSI Miami, or Gunther von Hagens’ reality TV autopsies, Foltyn argues that the human corpse has become an increasingly pervasive object of revulsion and attraction in our culture, a site of anxiety about medicine’s failure to conquer, but enthusiasm to hide, death. With all this in mind, it’s not surprising to find that the fiction of Will Self – an author who frequently weaves his narratives in, around, and beyond the boundaries of taboo – is one who showcases several literary autopsies, in which death and the human corpse are explored with a surgeon’s eye (and, more often than not, a coroner’s tongue). [Read More]

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