Metaphysics and Sabotage: A Thematic Study of Amélie Nothomb's Autobiographies

Student Author(s)

Charles Patchak

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Isabelle Chapuis-Alvarez

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Belgian born author Amélie Nothomb provides a unique and comprehensive perspective in her autobiographies, Métaphysique des tubes, Le sabotage amoureux, and Stupeur et tremblements. Within her autobiographies, Nothomb touches on a variety of themes in which my research focused on: life after death, suicide, religion, love, racism, feminism, absurdity in the world of adults, and cultural differences between the Western World and the Orient. Despite being an autobiographical account of her life experience, Nothomb uses this literary medium to make critiques on society through her use of different and broad themes. Playing on the Japanese cultural perspective that children are born gods who become humans around the age of three, Nothomb found an early fixation on Christ, his crucifixion, and the biblical creation account at the time of her birth. Her intrigue of parallels between Christianity and her own life experiences suggests an individualistic and internal approach to religion, which continues further in her later autobiographies. Nothomb also highlights the importance of women within society, romantic relationships, and family life. The author depicts racism in war and in particular the connectedness in pain between an aggressor and a victim with references to World War II and anti-Semitism. Overall, Amélie Nothomb uniquely carries out her diversified themes by encompassing her thoughts throughout the accounts of her life.

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