Reading the End(s) of the World

THE END IS NIGH (but what can you do?)

Just a note to say that for the next couple of months there will be a preponderance of doom, gloom, nuclear fallouts, premature ice ages, plague epidemics, and general apocalyptic madness in evidence at The Lightning Tree. The reason being that I’m about to embark on serious research for my Master’s dissertation, which will focus on Cormac McCarthy’s harrowing novel, The Road – but which will doubtless include comparative forays as I analyse McCarthy’s book. So. I need to read many imagined Ends of the World, some of which will hopefully prove useful to me in my studies. Ideally I’m looking for novels in which the apocalypse doesn’t just form a backdrop for gritty adventure (though I do enjoy these!), but novels in which the apocalyptic scenario is used to do some interesting thinking about literature/language/human communication… Might be a tall order, but if you have any recommendations or suggestions for me, please do leave me a comment!

…I use the term ‘apocalyptic fiction’ because the label ‘post-apocalyptic’, although broadly useful, doesn’t quite cover it (and is also technically a misnomer). I’m interested in books that lead up to apocalypse, fall after apocalypse (or widely disastrous event, at least), are near future, far future – anything! Whether the authors are usually seen as ‘genre’ or ‘literary’ writers (these labels are questionable anyway), I’ll check them out – as long as their novels are doing something interesting with the concept of apocalypse.

Review impending: Heroes and Villains, Angela Carter

Currently reading: Ice, Anna Kavan

My favourite apocalyptic fiction (so far): Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban (Don’t ask me why I’m focussing on The Road if I prefer Riddley Walker, ’cause I don’t really know. But I think The Road is awesome too.)

Also – can anyone think of an example of apocalyptic fiction that’s earlier than Byron’s poem, Darkness? I’d be interested to know, if you can!