Self-Deception in Literature and Philosophy

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Amit Marcus

Self-Deception in Literature and Philosophy

ISBN 978-3-88476-950-8, 244 S., kt., € 24,50 (2007)

(ELCH - Studies in English Literary and Cultural History, Bd. 27)

The aim of this interdisciplinary study is twofold: it offers a reexamination of narratological questions related to unreliable narration, while at the same time investigating the mutual illumination of philosophy and literature with regard to self-deception. Within this conceptual framework, the book analyzes novels by Dickens, Frisch, Ishiguro, Nabokov, Camus, and Robbe-Grillet. The philosophical chapters of the book provide an elaborate and systematic presentation of the main issues that render self-deception a fascinating mental phenomenon for analytical philosophers. The author discusses various approaches to self-deception, including the attempts to differentiate it from related mental phenomena and its conceptualizations as a paradox that calls for resolution. The literary interpretations demonstrate the ways in which the self-deceived narrating character causes the reader to oscillate between attributing reliability to the narrator and deeming him unreliable, and between two contradictory motivations of the narrator for telling his or her story. The author lays emphasis on the multifarious verbal expressions of self-deception in fictional works. Literary narratives demonstrate the doubts, oscillations, and subversions expressed in the language of the self-deceiver. Language can contribute to the deepening of self-deception, but it can also pave the way for the subject's release. Amit Marcus is a postdoctoral scholar at the universities of Freiburg and Gießen.