The Person of the Torturer: Secret Policemen in Fiction and Nonfiction

Journal of Aesthetic Education 51 (4):44-59 (2017)


Early modern conceptions of aesthetic education propose a necessary relation between aesthetic and moral values such that the appreciation of beauty is a necessary condition for the attainment of virtue. Contemporary conceptions retain the causal connection, claiming that the appreciation of literature in particular produces more responsive readers such that the aesthetic merits of novels are moral merits. J. M. Coetzee agrees that there is a relation between the two spheres of value but maintains that the novelist seeking to represent the secret policeman in a society that condones torture is faced with a dilemma: he or she must either portray the torturer by means of cliché and fail aesthetically or...

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Rafe McGregor
Edge Hill University

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