• Lorinda Tang Deakin University, Australia



trauma, affect, unspeakable, Duras


This paper explores questions for writers who are depicting traumatised characters in their creative practice. As a literary trope, ‘the unspeakable’ has been relied on as a shorthand for traumatic experience and the ongoing affects of trauma. This paper asks whether the unspeakable is adequate to convey the lived experience of trauma, or does it minimise or sideline trauma? Does recourse to the notion of the unspeakable prevent misappropriation of stories or does it lead instead to other kinds of misrepresentation and marginalisation? How can writers, appreciating the complexities raised by the notion of unspeakability, still convey truth and inspire empathic readings when speaking about trauma?

The unspeakable prevails as a preoccupation in literary trauma theory. This paper argues that understanding the affects of trauma in the context of the unspeakable may inform a more nuanced and ethical writing practice, while also considering whether writing about trauma requires the kind of evolution of speech demonstrate by Marguerite Duras in her novels The Lover and The North China Lover.

Author Biography

Lorinda Tang, Deakin University, Australia

Lorinda Tang is an Adelaide based writer of fiction and short stories. She has an extensive background in professional and legal writing. Before focusing on her writing career, Lorinda worked as a nurse and a lawyer. This experience underpins her concern with the ethics of creative writing, and the way in which intimate life events are explored. Lorinda is currently pursuing a PhD through Deakin University.



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