Issues of Shame and Guilt in the Modern Novel. Conrad, Ford, Greene, Kafka, Camus, Wilde, Proust, and Mann

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This study addresses the changes in literary depictions of remorse fostered by modernist literature’s response to normative ethical standards. Certain twentieth-century authors believed that the High Modern Period demanded a reconsideration of how individuals may hope to achieve the same social responsibility dictated by traditional values in light of a greater awareness of fundamental human impulses.


“[This work] is adept in tying issues related to modern consciousness to contemporaneous historical and sociological contexts. His work reveals the potentially debilitating synergy of the human predisposition for remorse and the mandates of religious and other cultural institutions. In making this link, Tenenbaum exposes the ways in which traditional moral judgment has myopically failed to consider innate human impulses in its censure of purported social indiscretion. Further, he underscores the pressures on the modern individual to distinguish between those directives that engender empathy and those internalized stigmas that incite unwarranted self-recrimination.” – Prof. Adrian S. Wisnicki, University of London

“[T]his study is noteworthy for its critical position: it reads the fiction through the lens of European philosophers who have examined the issues of guilt and social control (Lacan, Levinas, and Foucault are particularly important).” – Prof. Tom Butler, Eastern Kentucky University

“The innovative scholarship which lies at the heart of this work makes Tenenbaum an original critic in the field of 21st century literary interpretation. It would be a crying shame if modernist students and scholars were to ignore the impact of this ground-breaking study.” – Prof. Suzette Henke, University of Louisville

Table of Contents

Foreword by Adrian S. Wisnicki
1. Survivor Guilt: Conrad’s Anti-heroes
2. Keeping Up Appearances: Aristocratic Anxiety in the Novels of Ford Madox Ford
3. The Modem Confessional: Catholic Guilt in the Novels of Graham Greene and François Mauriac
4. Elders, Institutions and Existential Guilt In the Fiction of Franz Kafka and Albert Camus
5. Queer Imaginings: L’Amour d’Impossible in Wilde, James, Proust and Mann
Afterword: The Great Escape: The Reverence and Regret of the American Dream
Works Cited

Other Literature - Twentieth Century Books