restricted access Nathanael West and the Mystery of Feeling
Abstract

Satire reemerges in modernism because it offers an escape from coercive identifications enacted through sentimentality. As seen in the fiction of Nathanael West, however, satire's rejection of sentiment runs significant risks, threatening to dismiss the acutely felt claims of a suffering public. West's novels thus describe and negotiate a rift between satire and sentiment, between irony and pity, between aesthetics and ethics. In its antisentimental impulse, satire renders the human subject mechanical, insensate, or unable to experience emotion at all, yet this reductive, grotesque vision elicits an uncanny dread that paradoxically reaffirms feeling as a basis for aesthetics.


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