Burning Books: Textual Preoccupations of Nuclear and Postmodern Culture

  • Daniel Cordle


Nuclear literature is surprisingly full of both ransacked libraries and characters who collect books. This chapter charts how, in numerous fictions, these images of books and libraries are used to explore Jacques Derrida’s concept of the “archive”: the written record that defines what it means to be human. Threats to the archive challenge our sense of the human.

They also link overt nuclear fictions to postmodern literature of the 1980s. Discussing the postmodern apocalyptic, metafiction, virtuality and the refusal of closure across many contemporary postmodern texts, including works by J.G. Ballard, Kurt Vonnegut, Maggie Gee, Julian Barnes, Paul Auster and Russell Hoban, the chapter argues that nuclear consciousness is embedded at the heart of the decade’s literature and culture.


Short Story Atomic Attack Western Canon Nuclear Text Textual Artefact 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Cordle
    • 1
  1. 1.Nottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUnited Kingdom

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