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Palgrave Macmillan

The Logic of Wish and Fear

New Perspectives on Genres of Western Fiction

ISBN 9781137470843
Publication Date July 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Pivot

Through Aristotle's theory of catharsis and his concept of complex tragedy, Ben La Farge provides an original examination of genre. Moving effortlessly from Greek to Shakespearean tragedies, to nineteenth and twentieth-century British, American and Russian drama, and fiction and contemporary television, this study sheds new light on the art of comedy.

Ben La Farge is Professor of Literature at Bard College, USA.

Preface
PART I: THE CONVERGENCE OF COMEDY AND ROMANCE
1. Comedy's Logic
2. Comedy's Intention
3. Comic Romance
PART II: SECULAR MYTH
4. The Anatomy of Secular Myth
PART THREE: THE PLEASURES OF TRAGEDY
5. Genesis - Why Then?
6. Complex Tragedy
7. The Problem of Catharsis
8. The Question of Fate
9. The Tragic Flaw
10. Syphilis and War as Substitute Fates
11. High and Low Mimetic Tragedies
Conclusion

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Reviews

"We might have thought that wish and fear are safely in one category, logic in quite another. But in La Farge's absorbing, conceptually engaged, and highly cultivated compact book, we see that these categories in truth interconnect in unexpected and humanely enlightening ways. Similarly, the entrenched genres of comedy, romance, and tragedy - along with La Farge's new player, 'mythic fiction' - enter into wonderfully nuanced relationships as well in this thoroughly readable, engrossing, and lucid study… A remarkably rich mosaic that shows us - in short form but packing a punch - a great deal about the wondrously intricate ways in which literature is a tool with which we make sense of our lives." - Garry L. Hagberg, James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy, Bard College, USA, and author of Describing Ourselves: Wittgenstein and Autobiographical Consciousness and Editor of the journal Philosophy and Literature
"With the utmost clarity, precision and rigor, Ben La Farge presents us with fresh, indeed exciting thinking about the 'emotional logic' of comedy, romance, tragedy and what he calls 'mythic fiction.' Building upon Aristotle, Hegel, Northrop Frye and Auden, yet marking important paths of his own, he makes a necessary and permanent contribution to our understanding of genre and the master stories of our lives. This is a distinguished study indeed, a perfect fusion of theory and practice, the fruit of serious contemplation and exuberant interrogation." - Elizabeth Frank, Author of the 1986 Pulitzer Prize biography Louise Bogan: A Portrait, and the 2004 novel Cheat and Charmer
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