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Art, Mind, and NarrativeThemes from the Work of Peter Goldie$
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Julian Dodd

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198769736

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769736.001.0001

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The Dangers of Fiction

The Dangers of Fiction

Lord Jim and Moral Perfectionism

Chapter:
(p.80) 5 The Dangers of Fiction
Source:
Art, Mind, and Narrative
Author(s):

Edward Harcourt

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769736.003.0006

This chapter focuses on Peter Goldie’s discussion in The Mess Inside of the ‘fictionalizing tendencies’ to which we are subject in telling the stories of our own lives, and in particular on Goldie’s use of Conrad’s Lord Jim to explain what’s bad about them. I argue that in taking Jim’s problem to be simple failure to live up to a moral ideal, Goldie misunderstands the novel. An improved understanding of the novel is then offered as a way into theorizing the difference between the constructive relation we have to ideals of life (whether represented in fiction or elsewhere) and a characteristic deformation of this relation which can (though doesn’t have to) originate in fiction, and which has also often formed the subject matter of fiction.

Keywords:   Keywords ethics, literature, Conrad, narrative, moral psychology, moral ideals, moral perfectionism

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