Narcissism and Destructiveness at the Heart of Anne Landsman’s The Devil’s Chimney

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of American Studies, Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.


The present article opens, by way of introduction, with presenting the Frankfurt School of critical theory, of which Erich Fromm was an active member until his break from it the late 1930s. Fromm has been relegated to oblivion both in the West and in Iranian academic circles, where his views are seldom taught at universities and applied to works of literature. Fromm’s strong belief in the existence of a human essence proves to be unpopular nowadays among post-structuralist thinkers, and the eclectic nature of his work is similarly problematic in today’s specialized world. To fill this void, this article first elucidates key Frommian concepts such as the social unconscious, the social character and sheds light on non-productive character structures such as the hoarding orientation, the exploitative orientation, the marketing orientation, the necrophilous-destructive orientation as well as the productive character orientation. It then applies these concepts to Anne Landsman’s debut, postmodern South African novel The Devil’s Chimney (1997) which remains relatively untouched by scholarship. This article focuses furthermore on the Jacobs family and Miss Beatrice who embody the marketing orientation. September, by contrast, is posited as the epitome of the productive orientation who deeply loves people as well as animals and, as an artist, engages in creative activity.


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