A Journey of Erasing the Self

  • Meltem Şafak


This study analyzes Thomas Disch’s novella “The Asian Shore” in regard to its strong emphasis on the concept of identity by dissecting this concept into its major building stones such as memory, image, and environment. Disch’s work provides an intriguing discussion around the relevant-to-our-time notions of the self, the other, and the arbitrariness of identity. The protagonist, John Benedict Harris, is a New Yorker who is becoming a Turk in Istanbul. As myself being from Turkey and having my first encounter with “The Asian Shore” in NYC, I have an empathetic and personal interest in the character, John Benedict Harris, who travels from NYC to Istanbul to prove that identity is arbitrary and eventually becomes a living example of his own hypothesis. Besides the novella itself, I utilize Samuel Delany’s article, “About 5, 750 Words.” Regarding the theory of identity, I employ Francis M. Deng’s definition of the concept of identity.