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Women, Consumption and Popular Culture (Vol. 4 No. 1); Life, Community, and Ethics (Vol. 4. No. 2)

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Don DeLillo’s Libra, published in 1988, reconfigures the intriguing historical event—the JKF assassination, featuring the paradoxical social situations, the tense political milieu, and the indeterminate self-identification. What the novel aims at is not to recap the significant historical event but to reveal the incessantly bifurcating and detouring routes comprising the intriguing twists and turns of the major historical event. The semi-biographical exposition of Lee Oswald’s life experience and political engagement marks not only the juxtaposition of conspiracy and contingency, the connections and hinges between the political and the individual, but also reveals the relationship between place and self-identification.  

The paper will take Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of rhizome to expound the historical narrative in Libra. The rhizomatic idea of history employs the botanical image to designate how history constantly sprawls and re-configures itself in a multi-dimensional framework, from the political, the social, and, most of all, the individual. To probe into the notion of rhizome embedded in DeLillo’s historical narrative, the paper will delve into the idea of coincidence and the relationship between place and self-identification. The former refers to how conspiracy and contingency interweave. The latter aims to explore how Lee Harvey Oswald, going between the individual and the political, family and society, America and Russia, agitatedly situates himself in proliferating and heterogeneous connections. These confrontations and coincidences reveal the provisional and unstable im-placement. It is found that the constantly metamorphic self-identification in place corresponds and contributes to the idea of rhizome in DeLillo’s history. 

KEYWORDS: Libra, history, rhizome, space, self-identification

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