Narrative Ethics

Volume Editors: Jakob Lothe and Jeremy Hawthorn
While Plato recommended expelling poets from the ideal society, W. H. Auden famously declared that poetry makes nothing happen. The 19 contributions to the present book avoid such polarized views and, responding in different ways to the “ethical turn” in narrative theory, explore the varied ways in which narratives encourage readers to ponder matters of right and wrong. All work from the premise that the analysis of narrative ethics needs to be linked to a sensitivity to esthetic (narrative) form. The ethical issues are accordingly located on different levels. Some are clearly presented as thematic concerns within the text(s) considered, while others emerge through (or are generated by) the presentation of character and event by means of particular narrative techniques. The objects of analysis include such well-known or canonical texts as Biblical Old Testament stories, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones, Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian and Matthew Lewis’s The Monk. Others concentrate on less-well-known texts written in languages other than English. There are also contributions that investigate theoretical issues in relation to a range of different examples.

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Leonidas Donskis: Editorial Foreword
Jeremy Hawthorn and Jakob Lothe: Introduction
Part One: Theory
J. Hillis Miller: Should We Read or Teach Literature Now?
Liesbeth Korthals Altes: Narratology, Ethical Turns, Circularities, and a Meta-Ethical Way Out
J. Alexander Bareis: Ethics, the Diachronization of Narratology, and the Margins of Unreliable Narration
Part Two: Ethics and Reading
Greger Andersson: The Problem of Narratives in the Bible: Moral Issues and Suggested Reading Strategies
Jeremy Hawthorn: Reading Fiction: Voyeurism without Shame?
Markku Lehtimäki: An Ethics of Reading Sophisticated Narratives: The Example of J. M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello
Jakob Lothe: Authority, Reliability, and the Challenge of Reading: The Narrative Ethics of Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones
Part Three: Ethical Responsibility of the Author
Katrine Antonsen: Ethical Force of Fictionalization in Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen
Henrik Skov Nielsen: The Ethics of Literary Borrowing: Risks and Rewards
James Phelan and Peter J. Rabinowitz: Twain, Huck, Jim, and Us: Or, the Ethics of Progression in Huckleberry Finn
Howard Sklar: “Anything But a Simpleton”: The Ethics of Representing Intellectual Disability in Tarjei Vesaas’s The Birds
Part Four: Textual Studies
Karin Kukkonen: Adam Smith Meets the Devil: Demonic Pacts and Moral Sentiments in the Gothic Novel
Mirja Kokko: The Grieving Mind in Words and Images
Dana Ryan Lande: Travels Across Ethical Borders: Anonymity and Space in Nadine Gordimer’s “The Ultimate Safari”
Lykke Guanio-Uluru: Narrative Ethics in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
Erik van Ooijen: The Palpable Lolita: Form and Affect from the Perspective of Poetics
Klaus Brax: The Age of Scientific Racism: Internal Focalization and Narrative Ethics in Toni Morrison’s Beloved
Works Cited
About the Authors
Name Index
Subject Index