Essays on D. H. Lawrence, William Empson, and J. R. R. Tolkien
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Many people assume that heroism is dead because the heroic styles of past ages no longer exist. Roger Sale contends that this assumption is accompanied by other beliefs that are part of what he calls the Myth of Lost Unity (a variation on the myth of the Golden Age): a sense that the world was once "whole" but in recent centuries has gradually disintegrated; a feeling that the human condition is now lost or alienated or drifting; and a conviction that the proper response to life is resignation, cynicism, or despair.
Sale reminds us that Lawrence, Empson, and Tolkien all came to believe in the major features of the Myth of Lost Unity. Each, however, replied to what seemed his—and our fate—and defied the implications of the myth, achieving a community as a badge of that defiance. Sale’s exploration of their separate merits reveals how their heroism made them alike. The strength of Modern Heroism lies in the formidable critical powers Sale exercises in his three variations on its theme.
University of California Press, 9780520304789, 278pp.
Publication Date: January 8, 2021