The Ethics of Modernism: Moral Ideas in Yeats, Eliot, Joyce, Woolf and Beckett

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August 2008



What was the ethical perspective of Modernist literature? How did Yeats, Eliot, Joyce, Woolf, and Beckett represent ethical issues and develop their moral ideas? Lee Oser argues that thinking about human nature restores a perspective on modernist literature that has been lost. He offers detailed discussions of the relationship between ethics and aesthetics to illuminate close readings of major modernist texts. For Oser, the reception of Aristotle is crucial to the modernist moral project, which he defines as the effort to transform human nature through the use of art. Exploring the origins of that project, its success in modernism, its critical heirs, and its possible future, The Ethics of Modernism brings a fresh perspective on modernist literature and its interaction with ethical strands of philosophy. It offers many new insights to scholars of twentieth-century literature as well as intellectual historians.


Introduction: literature and human nature; 1. W. B. Yeats: out of nature; 2. T. S. Eliot: the modernist Aristotle; 3. James Joyce: love among the skeptics; 4. Virginia Woolf: Antigone triumphant; 5. Samuel Beckett: humanity in ruins; Conclusion: technology and technique; Works cited.


Lee Oser is Associate Professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts.


"Oser's written with a rare intensity, with an ethical urgency that prevents it from reducing his commentaries to preconceived opinions or rash philosophical generalizations." Jean-Michel Rabate, University of Pennsylvania "Oser's brilliant, stylish argument combines philosophical and literary languages in a manner entirely readable. He is an exciting and challenging writer, quick on his feet, surprising, witty, terse, imaginative, concentrated, and supple. Even very good works of criticism and scholarship are rarely this stimulating." Michael Cotsell, University of Delaware "Readers interested in the philosophical and cultural impact of modernism will be captivated by Oser's profound reading of these seminal wrirters." David G. Bonagura, Jr., The University Bookman "Oser's book would be of most interest to philosophers, religious studies and literary scholars exploring the intersection of art and ethics, religion and culture." Alyda Faber, Atlantic School of Theology, Studies in Religion "[C]ombative and provocative" Patrick Hayes, Oxford University, The Review of English Studies "I found Oser's engagement with form and his deep belief in the efficacy of literature to be great virtues in this ambitious and ornery book." Mariane Eide, Texas A & M University, James Joyce Quarterly
EAN: 9780521867252
ISBN: 0521867258
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: August 2008
Seitenanzahl: 185 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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