“What is it about the human condition that allows us to conceive of and question nothing itself, and to create various signifiers of nothing, such as zero? . . . Does nothing exist: or is existence ontologically antithetical to nothing?” (1). With these questions, Meghan Vicks opens her book Narratives of Nothing in Twentieth-Century Literature. Vicks makes clear from the beginning that she is not talking of negativity, negation, or nihilism: by pursuing the question of nothing and of its inscription in twentieth-century textualities, she immediately positions her discussion in one specific theoretical camp, Heideggerian philosophy and Derridean deconstruction, marginally filtered through the discourses of the neurosciences and of narrative theory. Vicks’s focus, carefully elaborated through the informed explications of the philosophies that sustain her perspective and through intelligent and exhaustive analyses of literary texts, is nothing’s relation to narrative and nothing as “essential...

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