Media, simulation, freedom and control in Richard Flanagan’s The Unknown Terrorist 2006

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Richard Flanagan’s novel, The Unknown Terrorist, does not only depict terrorism and violence but especially contemporary postmodern life in an Australian urban setting influenced by media, information technologies and consumerism. Drawing on Jean Baudrillard’s theory of simulacra and simulation, this paper analyses Flanagan’s depiction especially of the main character, the Doll, and the way she symbolically represents various aspects of the process of simulation as understood by Baudrillard. In this context, the Doll and other characters are understood as subjects both manipulating and manipulated by the simulated image of reality represented by media and technology, the image which replaces physical reality. The imagery of manipulation is understood as a metaphor implying a critique of hypocrisy and consumerism of the contemporary urban setting in the technologically advanced society represented by the Australian city of Sydney.

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  • Baudrillard J. 2016. “The Evil Demon of Images and the Precession of Simulacra.” In: Docherty T. (ed.). Postmodernism: A Reader. London: Routledge pp. 194-199.

  • Docherty T. 2016. Postmodernism: A Reader. London: Routledge.

  • Flanagan R. 2006. The Unknown Terrorist. London: Atlantic Books.

  • Webb J. 2010. “Distant Context Local Colour: Australian ‘post September 11’ Fiction.” In: Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature Special Issue: Common Readers and Cultural Critics. Edited by Russell Smith and Monique Rooney pp. 1-14.

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