In Praise of Antiheroes by Victor Brombert
Figures and Themes in Modern European Literature, 1830-1980

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In an age of upheaval and challenged faith, traditional heroes are hard to come by, and harder still to love, with their bloodstained hands and backs unbowed by the consequences of their actions. Through penetrating readings of key works of modern European literature, Victor Brombert shows how a new kind of hero—the antihero—has arisen to replace the toppled heroic model.

Though they fail, by design, to live up to conventional expectations of mythic heroes, antiheroes are not necessarily "failures." They display different kinds of courage more in tune with our time and our needs: deficiency translated into strength, failure experienced as honesty, dignity achieved through humiliation. Brombert explores these paradoxes in the works of Büchner, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Svevo, Hašek, Frisch, Camus, and Levi. Coming from diverse cultural and linguistic traditions, these writers all use the figure of the antihero to question handed-down assumptions, to reexamine moral categories, and to raise issues of survival and renewal embodying the spirit of an uneasy age.


About Victor Brombert

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Victor Brombert is the Henry Putnam University Professor Emeritus of Romance and Comparative Literatures at Princeton University. He is the author of many books, including In Praise of Antiheroes: Figures and Themes in Modern European Literature, 1830-l980, also published by the University of Chicago Press, and the wartime memoir Trains of Thought. He lives in Princeton, NJ.
Published April 15, 1999 by University Of Chicago Press. 178 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Although he spends little time on Hasek's The Good Soldier Schweik, the eponymous antihero epitomizes the type--""a survival artist"" whose ""flaws are his strength."" Brombert traces the antihero back to Homer's Ulysses, whose goal is self-preservation and whose strategy emphasizes cunning, and ...

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