Representation of Trauma as a Political Apparatus in Julian Barnes’s The Noise of Time


IUP Journal of English Studies, no.12, pp.7-24, 2017 (Scopus)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Journal Name: IUP Journal of English Studies
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.7-24
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This essay explores the function of trauma as a political apparatus in Julian Barnes’s latest novel The Noise of Time (2016). Focusing on the artistic life of worldly, well-known Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, Barnes’s narrative shows how trauma, as a dominant political apparatus, is systematically implemented by Stalin’s State of Terror or Power and how it dramatically impacts the psychological state of an artist. By presenting three stages of the central character’s traumatic experiences, the omniscient narrator represents trauma’s continuous impact on Shostakovich’s mind through his own retrospective perspective. The narrative focuses on Shostakovich’s constant sense of fear and intense panic at three decisive points of life when he finds himself in humiliating conversations with Power. The narrative presents the manner in which Shostakovich’s mind is possessed by the horrors, fears, and anxieties of both his traumatic experiences and post-traumatic recollections.