A World Abandoned by God: Narrative and Secularism by Susanna Lee

By Susanna Lee

It is a literary and philosophical research that hyperlinks the assumption of secularism to the shape of the radical. It bargains a groundbreaking serious beginning either for figuring out the flow towards an earthly tradition and for analyzing the position of the person in sleek moral, political, and religious contexts.

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We can consider for instance the shooting of Madame de Reˆnal and the punishment that ensues, about which D. A. ’’27 The various plot elements that lead up to the shooting can each be made to make sense, but resist an encompassing narrative. The marquis reacting to Madame de Reˆnal’s letter, for instance, can read as the moral father outraged at Julien’s conduct, or, alternatively, as the hypocritical aristocrat pleased at the excuse to banish the peasant. As for Julien, he can represent the jealous lover furious with the Church, the parvenu obsessed with Mathilde, the lover obsessed with Madame de Reˆnal, the son obsessed with Madame de Reˆnal, the paranoiac worried about his reputation, the egomaniac who does not want to be misunderstood, or the self-destructive madman.

This chronicle expresses on the one hand a desire to be rid of the constraints of the philosophical and ontological structures of the past and, on the other hand, a reluctance to abandon those form-giving structures. Living in Limbo: Chance and Providence Chance, as we said, prevents the reader from situating meaning solidly within the world of action or within the world of the mind. The characters, too, seem to sense this problematic function and are much occupied with negotiating the cosmic (or random) spirit of the outside world.

As Georg Luka´cs puts it, and as cited in chapter 1, ‘‘The inner importance of the individual has reached its historical apogee: the individual is no longer significant as the carrier of tran- 2: FLAUBERT’S SUPERIOR JOKE 53 scendent worlds, as he was in abstract idealism. ’’10 In Luka´cs’s interpretation, consciousness (subjectivity) eclipses the outside world because that world recedes or becomes inaccessible. It is no longer a home; the ‘‘brute force of reality’’ acts on the human soul without comforting it and without strengthening it.

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