chapter  7
The Ethics of Breaking up the Family Romance in David Mitchell’s Number9Dream
ByGERD BAYER
Pages 17

Postmodern fi ction frequently indulges in the ludic disruption of conventional or traditional narrative and social norms. In the context of trauma fi ction, this willingness to break free from stabilising factors runs counter to the need of trauma victims to re-establish ordering devices that will help keep the trauma at bay. David Mitchell’s novel Number9Dream (2001) off ers a diff erent kind of response in that it envisions a dreamlike alternative to reconstituting normality. By concentrating on a very small cast of characters that are marked by their family’s traumatic past, Mitchell develops ethical and formal alternatives to the unspoken desire, implicit in Freud and Breuer’s talking cure, that trauma victims can somehow, through narrative, fi nd a way to verbalise their repressed experience of a past trauma and thus move beyond the debilitating state of blocked yet highly intense emotional turmoil.