The Wounded Hero in Contemporary Fiction : A Paradoxical Quest book cover
1st Edition

The Wounded Hero in Contemporary Fiction
A Paradoxical Quest

ISBN 9780367666859
Published September 30, 2020 by Routledge
296 Pages

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Book Description

The Wounded Hero in Contemporary Fiction tracks the emergence of a new type of physically and/or spiritually wounded hero(ine) in contemporary fiction. Editors, Susana Onega and Jean-Michel Ganteu bring together some of the top minds in the field to explore the paradoxical lives of these heroes that have embraced, rather than overcome, their suffering, alienation and marginalisation as a form of self-definition.

Table of Contents



Jean-Michel Ganteau and Susana Onega

Part I

Vulnerability and Self-Quest

1 Learning to Love: The Paradoxical Life Quests of the Male Protagonists in Jeanette Winterson’s The Gap of Time

Susana Onega

2 The Eclipse of Heroism and the Outing of Plural Masculinities in Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child

Georges Letissier

3 Espousing the Wound: Dispossession as Practice in Jon McGregor’s So Many Ways to Begin

Jean-Michel Ganteau

Part II

Vulnerability and Self-Definition

4 "Am I Still Alice?": The Quest for "a Sense of Self" and Alzheimer’s Disease in Lisa Genova’s Still Alice

Chiara Battisti

5 Anita Brookner’s Wounded Heroine

Eileen Williams-Wanquet

6 Wounded Characters and Vulnerable Lives and Places in Ian McEwan’s Saturday

Rosario Arias

Part III

Masochism and Loss of Affect

7 Willed Wounds: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Masochism in A. L. Kennedy’s Fiction

Maria Grazia Nicolosi

8 The Masochistic Self Quest of the Harassed Hero in Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life

Merve Sarıkaya-Şen

9 Reading through the Body: The Damaged Mind in Tom McCarthy’s Remainder

Renate Brosch

Part IV

Vulnerability and Biopolitics

10 "Caring, Dwelling, Being: The Phenomenology of Vulnerability in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go"

Laura Colombino

11 Wounded Subjects and Vulnerable Nature in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland

Angelo Monaco

12 Barely Alive: Rewriting Sacrificial Passion in Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K

Pascale Tollance

Notes on Contributors


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Susana Onega is Professor of English at the University of Zaragoza (Spain). She is the author of books on William Faulkner, John Fowles, Peter Ackroyd, and Jeanette Winterson. She has also written numerous articles and book chapters on these and other writers and has edited or co-edited volumes on contemporary fiction, narrative theory, ethics and trauma.

Jean-Michel Ganteau is Professor of English Literature at the University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 (France). He is the author of two monographs (on David Lodge and Peter Ackroyd) and of The Ethics and Aesthetics of Vulnerability in Contemporary British Literature (2015). He has written numerous articles and book chapters and has (co-)edited volumes on contemporary fiction, ethics and trauma, and vulnerability.


"A remarkably insightful volume which puts the ethics of fiction to the test of literary form. Turning its gaze on the grammar of genre, mode and characterization, it eschews generalization to pay attention to the conflicted legacy of the figure of the hero/heroine and to understand its lasting, if complex, agency." -- Catherine Bernard, Paris Diderot University