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In Praise of Antiheroes: Figures and Themes in Modern European Literature, 1830-1980
by Victor Brombert
University of Chicago Press, 1999
Cloth: 978-0-226-07552-5 | Paper: 978-0-226-07543-3
Library of Congress Classification PN761.B76 1999
Dewey Decimal Classification 809.93352

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
In an age of upheaval and challenged faith, traditional heroes are hard to come by, and harder still to love, with their bloodstained hands and backs unbowed by the consequences of their actions. Through penetrating readings of key works of modern European literature, Victor Brombert shows how a new kind of hero—the antihero—has arisen to replace the toppled heroic model.

Though they fail, by design, to live up to conventional expectations of mythic heroes, antiheroes are not necessarily "failures." They display different kinds of courage more in tune with our time and our needs: deficiency translated into strength, failure experienced as honesty, dignity achieved through humiliation. Brombert explores these paradoxes in the works of Büchner, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Svevo, Hašek, Frisch, Camus, and Levi. Coming from diverse cultural and linguistic traditions, these writers all use the figure of the antihero to question handed-down assumptions, to reexamine moral categories, and to raise issues of survival and renewal embodying the spirit of an uneasy age.


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