For novelists after Joyce and Proust whose monumental creations had all but killed the novel as a well-defined genre, the task of writing novels became much more complicated. By focusing on a group of related themes (the death of the narrator or loved ones, mourning, and ghostly returns), we will explore the work of mourning which determines so much of the writing of contemporary novels. What has been "killed" is often the belief in a transparent and easy mirroring of the world and reality. By using a number of paradigmatic texts that pose the questions of haunting, guilt and survival, we will re-examine the issue of imitation (mimessis) and its consequences for the definition of the novel as a genre. These developments took place in a new cultural and political context marked by the loss of belief in the "real" world. Readings may include Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying," Jean Genet's "Funeral Rites," "Beckett's "Malone Dies," Muriel Sparks' "The Hothouse by "The East River," Toni Morrison's "Beloved,"Milan Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," Roland Barthes's "Camera Lucida", and Don DeLillo's "The Body Artist."