Dark Mirror: The Sense of Injustice in Modern European and American Literature (Google eBook)

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Fordham Univ Press, 1994 - Literary Criticism - 280 pages
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Focusing on European and American trial fiction since about 1880, Dark Mirror argues that although it is generally animated by a sense of injustice, this literature reflects the virtual collapse in Western culture of the idea of a universal, or "natural," ethical law. From the ancient Greeks to the Victorians, that idea, though powerfully contested by the notion that justice was simply "the interest of the stronger," remained vigorously alive in books as in people's minds. It thus constituted an alternative to injustice which modern literature, whether its angle is religious, social, or absurdist, rarely presents. Sterne presents the argument that the tradition of natural law can be adapted to the present condition, a hypothesis that necessitates a view of an international community in which distributive as well as punitive justice is done. Creators of literature, who have so persuasively dramatized the corruptions, cruelties, and absurdities of our time, would then be called upon to increasingly choose to imagine "just" ways for us to emerge from chaos. Dark Mirror is the first study that combines, comprehensively, the treatment of the historical conflict between idealistic (natural law) and "realistic" or cynical approaches to the idea of justice.
  

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Contents

Idealistic vs Realistic Conceptions of Justice from Homer to George Eliot
1
The Sense of Injustice in Modern Religious Fiction
67
The Sense of Injustice in Modern Social Fiction
108
The Sense of Injustice in Modern Absurdist Fiction
168
A Dissenting Perspective
218
Toward a Renewal of the Dialogue
243
List of Works Cited
263
Index
273
Copyright

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Page xii - Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear ; Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold, And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks ; Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it.

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About the author (1994)

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Richard C. Sterne is Professor of English at Simmons College, Boston.

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