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n Literator : Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies - Aliens and existential elevators : absurdity and its shadows in Douglas Adams's series

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Abstract

According to twentieth-century existentialist philosophy, the universe as we know it is steeped in senselessness, and the only possible means of survival is the construction of subjective meaning. Douglas Adams's fictional universe portrayed in his "Hitch hiker" series reflects the arbitrary nature of existence, and the characters dwelling in this narrative space are faced with two existential choices : the one is defiance in the face of senselessness, the other is bleak despair. This article explores the existential choices made by prominent characters in the "Hitch hiker" series. The article distinguishes between and analyses the Sisyphus characters and their polar opposites (or nihilist shadows) in Douglas Adams's "Hitch hiker" series. Adams's characters, be they human, alien or sentient machine, all face the same existential choice : actuate individual meaning, or resort to despondency. Characters who choose the first option are regarded as Sisyphus figures, whereas characters who choose the latter are referred to as shadows or nihilist nemeses.


Volgens twintigste-eeuse eksistensialistiese filosofie is die heelal soos ons dit ken, deurtrek met sinneloosheid, en die enigste moontlike manier om te oorleef, is om subjektiewe betekenis te konstrueer. Douglas Adams se fiktiewe heelal, soos uitgebeeld in sy "Hitch hiker"-reeks, weerspieël die arbitrêre aard van ons bestaan. Die karakters in sy narratiewe ruimte word met twee eksistensiële vrae gekonfronteer. Die een is trotsering ten spyte van sinneloosheid, die ander is naakte wanhoop. Hierdie artikel ondersoek die eksistensiële keuses wat prominente karakters in die "Hitch hiker"-reeks maak. Hierdie artikel onderskei tussen en analiseer die Sisyphus-karakters en hulle teenoorgesteldes (of nihilistiese skadu's) in Douglas Adams se "Hitch hiker"-reeks. Adams se karakters, of hulle nou ruimtewesens, mense of intelligente masjiene is, word almal met dieselfde eksistensiële keuse gekonfronteer : aktiveer individuele betekenis, of verval in wanhoop. Karakters wat die eerste opsie kies, word gesien as Sisyphus-figure, terwyl karakters wat die tweede opsie kies, beskou word as skadu's of nemeses.

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/content/literat/29/3/EJC62044
2008-12-01
2016-12-06
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