Lecture / Reading

Books at the Center - Dorothy Hale: "The Novel and the New Ethics"

Sponsored by Philosophy and Literature at Stanford


Friday, January 15, 2021
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
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In The Novel and the New Ethics, Dorothy Hale argues that contemporary writers such as Toni Morrison, J.M. Coetzee, Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, Gish Jen, Richard Russo, and Marilynne Robinson all share the belief that knowing and being responsible to people different from oneself is the defining ethical task of the fiction writer. Importantly, all these contemporary writers each pursue that ethical task with a full awareness of the political and ideological limitations that make the goal of “becoming other” an aspirational ideal that inspires an ongoing ethical endeavor. The art of the novel becomes defined with increasing explicitness as an aesthetics of alterity made visible as a formalist ethics. In the literary tradition Hale brings to light, the commitment to otherness confers upon the genre an artistic intensity and richness that extends to the novel's every word.

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