“Either Everything Is Sacred or Nothing Is”: Zadie Smith’s White Teeth as Postsecular Fiction

By Josh Privett.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 25, 2017 $US5.00

Zadie Smith’s novel White Teeth (2000) aligns with John McClure’s definition of postsecular fiction because it re-enchants the world. By subtly subverting realism, the narrative destabilizes a secular ontology and challenges readers’ a priori secular orientation. In the process, the novel interrogates the hegemony of secular rationalism, represented by its scientist characters, suggesting that the secular project of disenchantment is dubious. As postsecular fiction, however, White Teeth only partially re-enchants the world. To avoid affirming religious extremism, the novel weakens orthodox religious traditions and advocates pluralism as the best defense against religious and non-religious fundamentalism.

Keywords: Postsecular, Re-enchantment, Pluralism

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.35-47. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 25, 2017 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 339.850KB)).

Josh Privett

PhD Candidate, Department of English, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA