“An entire past comes to dwell in a new house”: Topophilia and Jeremiad in Joan Didion’s Run River
In this paper, I will analyse Joan Didion’s poetics of praise and mourning in her first published novel, Run River, understanding the Western landscape she presents in it as an instance of Gaston Bachelard’s idea of the childhood home as a felicitous, eulogised space. I will argue that Didion’s depiction of the Sacramento Valley and the struggle of the families inhabiting it to accept the changing face of the landscape results in a jeremiad narrative of the West as paradise lost. Reflecting on the limitations both of Bachelard’s discussion of the childhood home and of the West as a mythographic space, I will conclude by assessing Didion’s topophilia and her ambiguous stance as a Western writer.
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