January 16, 2019

The Literature of the Apocalypse

“In recent years, we have seen an epic scale of destruction caused by war, terrorism, global warming, famine and the obliteration of human cultural artifacts.

These events could be considered apocalyptic — either on a global scale, or as threats to specific communities.

When I began studying apocalypses in literature four years ago, my focus was on events like the Holocaust and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wanted to understand what sense we could make of humanity when the world has seen such apocalyptic situations.

But I discovered the study of apocalypse is a deeper well than most people can fathom. The root meaning of “apocalypse,” means “uncovering” or “lifting of the veil,” which indicates that a revelation may be made at the end.

As a student of both Western and Eastern literatures and cultures, I benefit from the cultural differences in the readings of apocalypses. In subcontinental Indian, especially Hindu, culture and texts, apocalypses are not linear but cyclical. South Asian literature may offer different connotations in cultural terms for personal apocalyptic events as well.”

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