In Heaven, as it is on Earth: Representations of literary heavens in contemporary literature, with a focus on Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones

Tidy, S 2009, In Heaven, as it is on Earth: Representations of literary heavens in contemporary literature, with a focus on Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, Masters by Research, Creative Media, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title In Heaven, as it is on Earth: Representations of literary heavens in contemporary literature, with a focus on Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones
Author(s) Tidy, S
Year 2009
Abstract This exegesis examines the landscape of heaven depicted in the contemporary novel, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I examine the various characteristics of the heaven (or 'afterlife') depicted in Sebold's novel, with the aim of ascertaining the narrative effects of using this device.

Using Ingrid Daemmrich's analysis of the paradisiacal motif in literature as a framework (Daemmrich, I 1997, Studies on Themes and Motifs in Literature: Enigmatic Bliss, The Paradise Motif in Literature, Peter Lang, New York), I reveal characteristics in The Lovely Bones that are both consistent with and challenge traditional literary representations of heaven and which therefore demonstrate that the text utilises the established literary motif of heaven for symbolism and meaning, but in a contemporary context.

I explore the growing trend of contemporary literary heavens by reviewing two other literary heavens that are relevant to this scholarship. I examine where as writers and readers, we ascertain our concept of heaven (in society's religious foundations and from prior literature), and for the relevance of the key text, I briefly discuss the author's likely cultural influences. Having established the novel's lack of alignment with a religious version of heaven, I then examine the nature of and the narrative effect of, the personalised heaven depicted in the novel, The Lovely Bones.

In doing so, I explore one of the new portraits of heaven in literature, an example which represents a growing trend away from portraying a classic edenic heaven shared by all humanity (and traditional to literary representations of heaven), toward a contemporary, personalised heaven that seeks to meet the wants and desires of the individual in our modern society. With reference to literature's ability to reflect back to us, our society's beliefs and values, I examine what this new portrait of heaven reveals about society.

Access to the project examined in conjunction with this exegesis has been restricted due to copyright.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Creative Media
Keyword(s) Heaven
Afterlife
Motif
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Created: Tue, 01 Mar 2011, 15:36:49 EST
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