Wandering through Guilt

ebook The Cain Archetype in the Twentieth-Century Novel

By Paola Di Gennaro

cover image of Wandering through Guilt

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The first comprehensive study on the pattern of guilt and wandering in literature, this book examines the relationship between the two complex concepts as they appear in twentieth-century novels, positing its methodological premises on archetypal criticism and both close and distant reading, but also drawing on psychology, anthropology, mythology, and religion. This research deciphers a common paradigm and literary representation whose archetype within Western literature is found in the biblical figure of Cain, while presenting a critical framework valid for boundary-crossing comparative approaches.From Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory and Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, to Wolfgang Koeppen's Death in Rome and Ōoka Shōhei's Fires on the Plain, this book is not merely a thematic study, but an analysis of the literary phenomena that appear in those novels where the sense of guilt is controversially subjective, or so collective as to be perceived as universal, as is often the case with war and postwar literature. Di Gennaro goes beyond the analysis of explicit rewritings of the story of Cain, in order to uncover the monomyth through its rhetorical structures and mythical methods. The wasteland with no religion; the lost, abandoned garden; the classical and religiously-corrupted city; and the tropical, cannibalistic island at war are the respective settings of these narratives, where the issue is neither homelessness nor journeying, but, rather, the desperate and futile movement toward self-consciousness, or self-destruction.After the Second World War, much was silenced rather than left unsaid. This study retraces those silent cries over history through the powerful literary marks of myths.

Wandering through Guilt