Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau (Paperback)

Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau By John C. Farrell Cover Image

Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau (Paperback)


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"Don Quixote is the first great modern paranoid adventurer.... Grandiosity and persecution define the characters of Swift's Gulliver, Stendhal's Julien Sorel, Melville's Ahab, Dostoyevsky's Underground Man, Ibsen's Masterbuilder Solness, Strindberg's Captain (in The Father), Kafka's K., and Joyce's autobiographical hero Stephen Dedalus.... The all-encompassing conspiracy, very much in its original Rousseauvian cast, has become almost the normal way of representing society and its institutions since World War Two, giving impetus to heroic plots and counter-plots in a hundred films and in the novels of Burroughs, Heller, Ellison, Pynchon, Kesey, Mailer, DeLillo, and others."--from Paranoia and Modernity

Paranoia, suspicion, and control have preoccupied key Western intellectuals since the sixteenth century. Paranoia is a dominant concern in modern literature, and its peculiar constellation of symptoms--grandiosity, suspicion, unfounded hostility, delusions of persecution and conspiracy--are nearly obligatory psychological components of the modern hero.

How did paranoia come to the center of modern moral and intellectual consciousness? In Paranoia and Modernity, John Farrell brings literary criticism, psychology, and intellectual history to the attempt at an answer. He demonstrates the connection between paranoia and the long history of struggles over the question of agency--the extent to which we are free to act and responsible for our actions. He addresses a wide range of major authors from the late Middle Ages to the eighteenth century, among them Luther, Bacon, Cervantes, Descartes, Hobbes, Pascal, La Rochefoucauld, Swift, and Rousseau. Farrell shows how differently paranoid psychology looks at different historical junctures with different models of agency, and in the epilogue, "Paranoia and Postmodernism," he draws the implications for recent critical debates in the humanities.

John Farrell is Professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College. He is also the author of Freud's Paranoid Quest: Psychoanalysis and Modern Suspicion.
Product Details ISBN: 9780801474064
ISBN-10: 080147406X
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication Date: October 4th, 2007
Pages: 352
Language: English