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In this chapter, Beaumont uses Slavoj Žižek’s theories of fantasy and parallax to examine a plot widespread throughout world literature: the “Sleeper Awakened” plot. Tracing the trajectory of a particular iteration of this plot involving the medieval Islamic sect known as the Assassins—a trajectory that spans from twelfth- and thirteenth-century troubadour poetry up through William Burroughs’s Nova Trilogy (1961–64)—Beaumont draws on Žižek’s work on the “Janus-like structure of fantasy” as a means of understanding the “parallax shift” that occurred with regard to representations of the Assassins in the Western literary imaginary following the French Revolution, a shift that transformed them from perfidious, drug-crazed killers to heroic resistance fighters. Looking at Burroughs in particular, Beaumont demonstrates how the lesson of the Nova Trilogy’s iteration of the Sleeper Awakened plot—“there is no true or real ‘reality’”—dovetails with Žižek’s Lacanian insistence that “the big Other does not exist.”

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