The Autonomous Individual and the Novel

Dr. Anne-Marie Feenberg-Dibon
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The European novel has chronicled the changing conception of personhood from emerging modernity to today. The Enlightenment's grand narratives proposed a notion of personhood as the autonomous individual, persons capable of obeying self-given laws, in harmony with society and themselves -reason and the emotions reconciled.

Modernity had brought promises of liberty, fraternity, equality and the realization of the individual’s potential. As capitalism develops however, the novel shows the increasing gap between these ideals and reality, the increasing alienation from society, decreasing autonomy, and the individual torn between instrumental reason and emotional needs.

I would like to illustrate this hypothesis by referring to novels such as Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Goethe’s Das Leiden des jungen Werther, Stendhal’s Le Rouge et le Noir, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Keywords: Literature, Literary Studies, Comparative Literature, European Fiction, Theory of the Novel
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Anne-Marie Feenberg-Dibon

Associate Professor, Department of Humanities, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Anne-Marie Feenberg-Dibon: born in France, educated in France and the Netherlands, I obtained the Licence and Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures d'Anglais at the Sorbonne (Paris, France), and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of California, San Diego. After teaching in several universities in California, I am now settled in Vancouver, Canada, and teach at Simon Fraser University. My interests include history and theory of the novel, the Enlightenment and art history.

Ref: H06P0558