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Identity at Risk. Edition No. 1
VDM Publishing House, October 2009, Pages: 196
The focal point of this study is the construction of identity in four of Elizabeth Bowen’s wartime texts. In a time of crisis identity is exposed to threats of annihilation, but such a time also permits a writer like Bowen to explore the implications of modern living, where everything one knew to be certain is undermined, and where such a situation potentially challenges the individual’s understanding of who she is. The study addresses the uncertainty ascribed to identity construction in Bowen’s work with a particular focus on the dialectics of identity construction, and takes Paul Ricoeur’s dialectical understanding of identity, sameness-identity and selfhood-identity, as its theoretical starting point. By understanding identity dialectically the complexity of identity is underscored. The study shows that the dialectic of sameness-identity and selfhood-identity is threatened in Bowen’s texts, where the different escapes described, through dreams, myth or imagination, prevent the individual from experiencing herself as a whole.
Dr Ingfrid Thowsen is Associate Professor in English at Sør- Trøndelag University College, Faculty of teacher- and interpreter education, Trondheim, Norway.