Fyodor Dostoevsky, Walker Percy, and the Age of Suicide

by John F. Desmond
Catholic University of America Press, 2019
Cloth: 978-0-8132-3127-3, eISBN: 978-0-8132-3128-0

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Walker Percy, and the Age of Suicide is a study of the phenomenon of suicide in modern and post-modern society as represented in the major fictional works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Walker Percy. In his study, suicide is understood in both a literal and spiritual sense as referring to both the actual suicides in their works and to the broader social malaise of spiritual suicide, or despair. In the 19th century Dostoevsky called suicide “the terrible question of our age”. For his part, Percy understood 20th century Western culture as “suicidal” in both its social, political and military behavior and in the deeper sense that its citizenry had suffered an ontological “loss of self” or “deformation” of being. Likewise, Thomas Merton called the 20th century an “age of suicide”.
Part 1. Fyodor Dostoevsky
1. Dostoevsky and the Road to Suicide
2. Notes on Notes from Underground
3. Crime and Punishment: A Modern Case
4. The Idiot: Christ without Christ
5. Demons: A Cautionary Tale
6. The Brothers Karamazov: Of Darkness and Light
Part 2. Walker Percy
7. Walker Percy and the Age of Suicide
8. The Moviegoer: Skirting the Abyss
9. The Last Gentleman: Homeward Bound
10. Lancelot: What Do Survivors Do?
11. The Second Coming: Finding Home
12. Love in the Ruins and The Thanatos Syndrome: Cautionary Tales
Epilogue: Beyond Suicide
Selected Bibliography

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