Self in Modern Lit.

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A survey of the development of the theme of the lost and alienated self in modern literature that ranges from Kierkegaard through the nihilistic writing of Ibsen, Strindberg, Pirandello, Gide, and Malraux to the Existentialist hero and the "positive heros" of recent Russian fiction. Included are intensive analyses of Brand, Peer Gynt, The Road to Damascus, the Immoralist, The Alexandria Quartet, Doctor Zhivago, and the principle works of lonesco and Beckett. "Plagued by the widening split in human consciousness, the modern writer is faced with the baffling problem of picturing a self that seems to have lost its reality. Dwelling in a universe that he looks upon as alien and hostile, man today retreats within the fastness of the self, only to discover that he does not know himself." From the beginning, the author carefully and imaginatively traces the development of the theme of the lost and alienated self in modern literature. He demonstrates throughout an ability to present the essences of difficult writers clearly, without oversimplifying.From an opening discussion of Kierkegaard and the problem of the self without God, he moves to explore fully the growing nihilistic trend evidenced in the writings of Ibsen, Strindberg, Pirandello, Gide, and Malraux and culminating in the plays and novels of Ionesco and Beckett. He then turns his attention to the Sartrean man, the Existentialist hero searching to find the ground for a humanistic ethic in an awareness of the absurd. The desire for commitment inherent in this search leads the author to a consideration of the "positive heroes" of recent Russian fiction and the problems of writing under direction from the Ministry of Truth.Commenting on this valuable exercise in comparative literature, the noted critic Ihab Hassan has said, "The author has committed himself to an excellent endeavor." All readers faced with the complex problems presented by modern literature should find this an original and enlightening book.

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Pennsylvania State University Press
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