The distinguished man of letters turns his pen to literary criticism and directs his attention particularly to the problem...

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THE VANISHING HERO

The distinguished man of letters turns his pen to literary criticism and directs his attention particularly to the problem of the vanishing hero in modern literature. He demonstrates through the works of eight writers the increasing obsolescence of the traditional hero characterized by a generally harmonious relationship with society. Contemporary ""main"" characters are at odds with something -- either they are rebellious, adversely free, narcissistic or controlled by destiny; invariably they wrestle, consciously or unconsciously, with controls. Graham Greene's creatures are subject to destiny, William Faulkner's are dominated by heredity, for Ernest Hemingway the will enjoys autonomy but it is always in jeopardy. Although the Antihero is not a new concept, Joyce was the first to resurrect him in modern terms; Evelyn Waugh belittles the Hero and Elizabeth Bowen makes a martyr of him; Huxley's detachment precludes compassion and Virginia Woolf's introspective self-pre-occupation is not heroic. As long as youth believes in individual sincerity, concludes Mr. O'Faolain, the Antihero will appear. The name will arouse the interest of intellectuals here. It's a natural for Lit. Majors- but for the man in the street- no.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 1957

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown-AMP

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1957