The suicide of the Soviet Union, Brexit and Svetlana Alexievich’s ‘Secondhand time’

McQueen, Daniel and Ikkos, George (2018) The suicide of the Soviet Union, Brexit and Svetlana Alexievich’s ‘Secondhand time’. Group Analysis, 51 (1). pp. 61-71. ISSN 0533-3164

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Spurred by Literature Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s empathic reports in Secondhand time: The last of the Soviets—An Oral History (2016), the authors reflect on the dynamics of suicide and self-harm at individual and communal and national levels. Themes explored in relation to two of Alexievich’s individual cases of suicide, the demise of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union itself, as well as the result of the Brexit referendum, include feelings of hopelessness, fantasies and experiences of transcendence and the will to control. The necessity of a pluralistic perspective and the possibility of complementary or alternative understandings of Alexievich’s accounts and the people and events discussed in this article are acknowledged.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: First published online: February 16, 2018. Second-hand Time is the latest work from Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. Here she brings together the voices of dozens of witnesses to the collapse of the USSR in a formidable attempt to chart the disappearance of a culture and to surmise what new kind of man may emerge from the rubble. Fashioning a singular, polyphonic literary form by combining extended individual monologues with a collage of voices, Alexievich creates a magnificent requiem to a civilization in ruins, a brilliant, poignant and unique portrait of post-Soviet society out of the stories of ordinary women and men.
Subjects: Disabilities & Disorders (mental & physical) > Suicide
Race and Culture > Social/Cultural Influences on Psychology (e.g. disasters, war)
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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