The Savage God: A Study of Suicide

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W. W. Norton & Company, 1971 - Psychology - 320 pages
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"Suicide," writes the notes English poet and critic A. Alvarez, "has permeated Western culture like a dye that cannot be washed out." Although the aims of this compelling, compassionate work are broadly cultural and literary, the narrative is rooted in personal experience: it begins with a long memoir of Sylvia Plath, and ends with an account of the author's own suicide attempt. Within this dramatic framework, Alvarez launches his enquiry into the final taboo of human behavior, and traces changing attitudes towards suicide from the perspective of literature. He follows the black thread leading from Dante through Donne and the romantic agony, to the Savage God at the heart of modern literature.
 

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Contents

Fallacies
99
Theories
113
Feelings
143
Suicide and Literature
163
Dante and the Middle Ages
167
John Donne and the Renaissance
173
William Cowper Thomas Chatterton and the Age of Reason
193
The Romantic Agony
223
Tomorrows Zero The Transition to the Twentieth Century
235
Dada Suicide as an Art
244
The Savage God
257
Epilogue Letting Go
287
Notes
309
Index
316
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About the author (1971)

A. Alvarez is a highly acclaimed poet, novelist, literary critic, and author. He lives in London.

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