1st Edition

The Fiction of Evil

ISBN 9781138807785
Published September 27, 2016 by Routledge
208 Pages

USD $56.95

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Book Description

What makes someone an evil person? How are evil people different from merely bad people? Do evil people really exist? Can we make sense of evil people if we mythologize them? Do evil people take pleasure in the suffering of others? Can evil people be redeemed?

Peter Brian Barry answers these questions by examining a wide range of works from renowned authors, including works of literature by Kazuo Ishiguro, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and Oscar Wilde alongside classic works of philosophy by Nietzsche and Aristotle. By considering great texts from literature and philosophy, Barry examines whether evil is merely a fiction.

The Fiction of Evil explores how the study of literature can contribute to the study of metaphysics and ethics and it is essential reading for those studying the concept of evil or philosophy of literature at undergraduate level.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Fiction and Evil

1. Literature as Philosophy

2. Skepticism about Evil, Part 1: Mythologizing Evil

3. Skepticism about Evil, Part 2: Nietzsche’s War on Evil

4. Conscience and Character

5. The Perverse, the Virulent, and the Satanic

6. Evil, Pleasure, and Malice: The Conscience of Claggart

7. Evil and Cruelty: The Fall of Dorian Gray

8. Redemption and Overcoming Evil.



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Peter Brian Barry is the Finkbeiner Endowed Professor of Ethics at Saginaw Valley State University, USA.


‘Using non-technical language ‘The Fiction of Evil’ expertly interweaves trenchant philosophical analysis with well-known literary works, bringing the analysis to life for those who come to the topic for the first time. A must read for all persons interested in the concept of evil or the philosophy of literature’. Stephen de Wijze, University of Manchester, UK