In: KulturPoetik 2007, Heft 1


Sascha Seiler


Das verschüttete Paradies. Die Darstellung des verlorenen ›Amerikanischen Traums‹ in Romanen über 9/11




In American literature, treatment of the terror attacks on September 11 features above all a retrospective view of a supposedly idyllic era before this profound caesura, before the traditional belief in the American Dream was shattered. Whereas European intellectuals and writers focus more on the aesthetic dimensions of the event itself, authors like Paul Auster or Jonathan Safran Foer seem to regard the attacks as the end of the great American strive for individual happiness – John Winthrop’s City upon a Hill– and belief in a Fate that conforms with personal effort. Using selected texts and films, the essay considers September 11 as a strict caesura in this belief in individual happiness and how American writers and film makers in particular interpret the attacks in retrospect as expulsion from Paradise, while their European colleagues have a greater tendency to aestheticize the acts of terror.