No Hero and No Faces: The Postmodern Antihero in Reza Ghasemi’s The Nocturnal Harmony of Wood Instruments

Document Type: Research Papers


English Language and Literature Department, Persian Gulf University, Bushehr, Iran


Reza Ghasemi’s novel, The Nocturnal Harmony of Wood Instruments, is an intriguing narrative of exile, portraying a nameless protagonist/narrator living in a dystopian microcosm. Hallucinating and self-delusional, he presents a collage-like picture of his life and the account of a novel of the same title he has apparently written. The present study investigates the diverse postmodern characteristics of the work such as metafiction, pastiche, paranoia, dissociation of meaning, looseness of association, and apocryphal history. These characteristic attributes are masterfully employed by the writer in a harmonious yet befuddling texture. This exploration of the postmodern elements serves as the necessary context for the depiction of the narrator/protagonist as a postmodern antihero. It is stated that as an inevitable outcome of dominance of postmodernism which carries with itself memories of disasters and traumas, the apocalyptic vision of the world, and an entropic picture of the universe, there is no room for heroism in its traditional and archetypal sense. Far from being a hero distinguished with heroic codes of action, and in contrast to charismatic heroes capable of leadership and worthy of admiration, Ghasemi’s protagonist, it is proved, is an antihero unable to see any pattern in life and rarely its destination. Far from trying to establish his own personal, suprasocial codes, the antihero is always a displaced person and in relation to society, infrasocial. His self-centeredness makes him not only unheroic, but anti-heroic. The study traces the artistic rendering of the postmodern ambiance in the birth and development of an archetypal antihero.


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