By John J. Su
Photos of loss and craving performed an important position in literary texts written within the later a part of the 20 th century. regardless of deep cultural changes, novelists from Africa, the Caribbean, nice Britain, and the USA proportion a feeling that the industrial, social, and political forces linked to overdue modernity have evoked common nostalgia in the groups within which they write. during this unique and wide-ranging examine, John J. Su explores the connection among nostalgia and ethics in novels around the English-speaking international. He demanding situations the tendency in literary reviews to characterise reminiscence as optimistic and nostalgia as unavoidably adverse. as a substitute, this publication argues that nostalgic fantasies are the most important to the moral visions awarded by way of topical novels. From Jean Rhys to Wole Soyinka and from V. S. Naipaul to Toni Morrison, Su identifies nostalgia as a principal situation within the twentieth-century novel.
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Extra info for Ethics and Nostalgia in the Contemporary Novel
3 Homer was fascinated by the compulsion that horses felt to return to their old haunts despite efforts to domesticate them. Aristotle saw in this depiction a lesson about moral development: habits are formed at an early age and are very difficult to change thereafter. The effort to shape character and cultivate moral virtue, then, becomes the task of the science of ethics, and Aristotle perceived the perfection of virtue to depend on the cultivation of correct habits. 4 The idea that individuals are profoundly influenced by their place of birth was apparent in not only ancient Greek but also Roman thinking.
This is apparent in his nervous reflections about Sethe’s commitment to Denver: Risky, thought Paul D, very risky. For a used-to-be-slave woman to love anything that much was dangerous, especially if it was her children she had settled on to love. The best thing, he knew, was to love just a little bit; everything, just a little bit, so when they broke its back, or shoved it in a croaker sack, well, maybe you’d have a little love left over for the next one. (45) The inability of Sethe and Paul D to resolve their differences stems in part from their conflicting attitudes toward place.
The old men of the town relate to Dead’s visiting grandson, Milkman, their fond memories of the farm, and the penniless man who made it into one of the largest and most successful enterprises in the county. Their descriptions clearly indicate that these memories enable them to articulate their own values and aspirations in concrete form. The text notes that the farm “colored their lives like a paintbrush and spoke to them like a sermon. ’ The farm said to them. ‘See? ’”30 Yet, if it functions as a “primal place” for the community – providing a coherent model against which the farmers measure their own circumstances – the farmers nonetheless do not follow the model.
Ethics and Nostalgia in the Contemporary Novel by John J. Su