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BRET EASTON ELLIS'S AMERICAN PSYCHO:

A READER'S GUIDE

(CONTINUUM CONTEMPORARIES)

COMMENTARIES BY NICOLE SCHUSTER

 

 

In this small book, Julian Murphet makes an excellent analysis of Ellis' work American Psycho. Particularly interesting is the way Murphet focuses on the class and cultural context that serves as a backdrop in the story. Bateman, the main protagonist of Ellis’ book, is representative of this new sector of the society composed of “yuppies” who are strongly impregnated with the neoliberal mentality. In this study, the reader will find a good interpretation of the symbolism used by Ellis, especially in the scene confronting two entities of the capital's representatives: the world of Finance and the world of Real Estate. Both are serving the same objective: accumulating surplus-value, one through Wall Street and the Stock-exchange and the other one through an exacerbated valorization of real estate patrimony. In this moment of history characterized by the severe crisis of mass production, both fields are becoming the core of a renewed form of accumulation of capital. As a matter of fact, we witnessed in the 1990's – which is the time period covered by Ellis’ story - the increasing negative impact of financial globalization on low and middle wage earners, together with the strengthening of the real estate's power.

In the middle of the wealth produced by this world of speculation, Bateman is guided by clichés and brands that serve as criteria to his meaningless and dead boring life. In a sense, his behavior could be interpreted as the denunciation of the lack of transcendental ideals from which the emerging class of new rich suffers. More precisely, through his depraved way of life he can be viewed as an alienated victim of a society lost in the pursuit of money and of purely materialistic objectives and where killing provides the murderer a feeling of "acting", of “being someone”. Nevertheless, one should not overlook the fact that a lot of images in Ellis' book are phantasms that emanate from Bateman's mind, which makes it difficult to distinguish fiction from reality. But as many writers state: "fiction is always based on reality and reality nourishes itself from fiction".

 

 

 

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