Abstract

Can literature provide moral insight? Or can literary works do nothing more than reflect the moral views that readers bring to them? We argue that literary works can provide genuine moral insight by discussing one that does. Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient challenges two key assumptions about moral evil: that evil necessarily involves active malevolence, and that evil and aesthetic beauty are mutually exclusive. These assumptions play foundational roles both in everyday moral thinking, and in the interpretive practices of many critics and readers. Thus, The English Patient provides genuine insights that are both aesthetic and moral.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 23-40
Launched on MUSE
2004-05-12
Open Access
No
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