Sin and Evil: Moral Values in Literature
Sin and Evil: Moral Values in Literature  -     By: Ronald Paulson
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Yale University Press / 2007 / Hardcover
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Sin and Evil: Moral Values in Literature

Yale University Press / 2007 / Hardcover

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Stock No: WW108751


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Product Description

Referring extensively to British and American literature over the last 250 years, this is an ambitious, substantial overview of the way major authors from Fielding to Vonnegut have dealt with sin and evil. Paulson, at the same time, interacts with theologians, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and literary critics. 403 pages, hardcover. Yale University.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 416
Vendor: Yale University Press
Publication Date: 2007
Dimensions: 9.25 X 6.13 (inches)
ISBN: 0300120141
ISBN-13: 9780300120141

Publisher's Description

The confusion of sin and evil, or religious and moral transgression, is the subject of Ronald Paulson’s latest book. He calls attention to the important distinction between sin and Evil (with a capital E) that in our times is largely ignored, and to the further confusion caused by the term “moral values.” Ranging widely through the history of Western literature, Paulson focuses particularly on American and English works of the eighteenth through twentieth centuries to discover how questions of evil and sin—and evil and sinful behavior—have been discussed and represented.
The breadth of Paulson’s discussion is enormous, taking the reader from Greek and Roman tragedy, to Christian satire in the work of Swift and Hogarth, to Hawthorne’s and Melville’s novels, and finally to twentieth-century studies of good and evil by such authors as James, Conrad, Faulkner, Greene, Heller, Vonnegut, and O’Brien. Where does evil come from? What are “moral values”? If evil is a cultural construct, what does that imply? Paulson’s literary tour of sin and evil over the past two hundred years provides not only a historical perspective but also new ways of thinking about important issues that characterize our own era of violence, intolerance, and war.

Author Bio

Ronald Paulson is Emeritus Professor of English, The Johns Hopkins University, and author of more than twenty previous books, including Hogarth: His Life, Art, and Times, published by Yale University Press.

Editorial Reviews

“There is, to my knowledge, nothing to compare with this book’s ambitious scope.  It’s a long journey, pleasantly conducted.” —Valentine Cunningham, Corpus Christi College in Oxford


"Professor Paulson's book is timely.  No theme is more urgent or opportune.  There are other studies of evil, but Paulson's is the most literary and the most wide-ranging."—Denis Donoghue, author of The American Classics and Speaking of Beauty   

"This informative journey through centuries of literature, mostly British and American fiction, is the harvest of a distinguished career and brings together themes from the author's many previous publications. . . . [An] erudite and impressive study."—Robert F. Brown, The Review of Metaphysics

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