Brexlit: Its ‘Bleak Humour’ and the Response it Elicits in the Face of Brexit
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This thesis takes into consideration a selection of novels by British authors, written and published since the Brexit referendum in 2016. In an attempt to analyse the ways in which the fledgling genre known as ‘Brexlit’ responds to the event of Brexit, this thesis shall discuss the following novels: Sam Byer’s Perfidious Albion (2018), Jonathan Coe’s Middle England (2018), and three of Ali Smith’s ‘Seasonal Novels’ (2016-2019). By addressing each author’s work in the isolation of a dedicated chapter, the primary aim of this thesis is to examine how each respond to the referendum result, its subsequent years of fallout, and the fractures it uncovered in Britain’s national identity. In order to carry out this investigation, this thesis considers each novel through the lens of two distinct literary tropes: allegory and humour. This thesis shall expand on Christian Gutleben’s term ‘bleak humour’ in order to comprehend and analyse the particular vein of comedy that runs through these texts when addressing the atmosphere and culture that surrounds these novels’ discussion of Brexit. Moreover, this thesis shall present an understanding of the modern allegory which provides the grounding for an investigation into the relationship that each text engenders with its reader in an attempt to draw a response from them to Brexit. Ultimately, this thesis hopes to understand how these authors have attempted to respond to, and articulate their opinions on, Brexit and the issues that surround it, and in turn elicit a response from their readers to the world they find themselves in today.