Simulacra, Memory, and Self-Fashioning in Julian Barnes’ England

Khamees Odah Ali


Julian Barnes’ 1998 England, England is a novel that explores the working of Baudrillardian Simulacra in the production and dissemination of national identity by mediating the ways into which a nation can imagine its history. The current study argues that this view is exclusionist since it overlooks the working of Simulacra on the personal level in this novel. Simulacra is essential to England’s image of itself as to the central character Martha Cochrane’s image of self and imaginary. The study further argues for the centrality of memory to the working of Simulacra in England, England. Memory, whether personal or national, is a par excellence textual space for the negotiation and interrogation of the issues of Simulacra and self-fashioning. Barnes’ narrative, as such, is less about identity than self-fashioning construction. Memory, notably in the first part of the novel, is mediated and reconstructed by Simulacra to initiate the process of the construction of self-fashioning parallel for Martha and fin de millénaire Britain. The novelty of this research lies in the way it seeks to re-conceptualize Baudrillard's Simulacra critique from cultural simulation to the subversive play of cultural memory. The research shall limit its scope to this novel as it masterly invokes the psychology of the memory, particularly through the psychological model of the Adaptive Constructive Process.


Keywords: Julian Barnes, Simulacra, memory, self-fashioning, trauma, adaptive constructive process.




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