Dehumanization in Literature and the Figure of the Perpetrator

In Maria Kronfeldner (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Dehumanization. London, New York: Routledge (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Chapter 14. Andrea Timár engages with literary representations of the experience of perpetrators of dehumanization. Her chapter focuses on perpetrators of dehumanization who do not violate laws of their society (i.e., they are not criminals) but exemplify what Simona Forti, inspired by Hannah Arendt, calls “the normality of evil.” Through the parallel examples of Dezső Kosztolányi’s Anna Édes (1926) and Doris Lessing’s The Grass is Singing (1950), Timár first explores a possible clash between criminals and perpetrators of dehumanization, showing literature’s exceptional ability to reveal the gap between ethics and law. Second, she examines novels focalized through perpetrators and the difficult narrative empathy they provoke, arguing that only the critical reading of these novels can make one engage with the potential perpetrator in oneself. As case studies, Timár examines Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), which may potentially turn its reader into an accomplice in the process of dehumanization, and J.M. Coetzee’s Foe (1986), which puts on critical display the dehumanizing potentials of both aesthetic representation and sympathy as imaginative violence. Third, she reads Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones [Les Bienveillantes, 2006], which can make the reader question, through the polyphony of the voice of its protagonist, the notions of narrative voice and readerly empathy, only to reveal that the difficulty involved in empathizing with perpetrator characters lies not so much in the characters’ being perpetrators, but rather in their being literary characters. Eventually, Timár briefly touches upon the problem of the aesthetic and the comic via Nabokov’s Lolita (1955) to ask whether one can avoid some necessarily dehumanizing aspects of humor



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Routledge Handbook of Dehumanization.Maria Kronfeldner (ed.) - 2021 - London, New York: Routledge.
Dehumanization, Disability, and Eugenics.Robert A. Wilson - 2021 - In Maria Kronfeldner (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Dehumanization. London, New York: Routledge. pp. 173-186.
Apeing the human essence: simianization as dehumanization.David Livingstone Smith & Ioana Panaitiu - 2016 - In Wulf Hund, Charles Mills & Sylvia Sebastiani (eds.), Simianization: Apes, Gender, Class, and Race. Lit Verlag. pp. 77-104.
De- and rehumanization in the wake of atrocities.Rianna Oelofsen - 2009 - South African Journal of Philosophy 28 (2):178-188.
Manufacturing Monsters: Dehumanization and Public Policy.David Livingstone Smith - 2018 - In David Boonin, Katrina L. Sifferd, Tyler K. Fagan, Valerie Gray Hardcastle, Michael Huemer, Daniel Wodak, Derk Pereboom, Stephen J. Morse, Sarah Tyson, Mark Zelcer, Garrett VanPelt, Devin Casey, Philip E. Devine, David K. Chan, Maarten Boudry, Christopher Freiman, Hrishikesh Joshi, Shelley Wilcox, Jason Brennan, Eric Wiland, Ryan Muldoon, Mark Alfano, Philip Robichaud, Kevin Timpe, David Livingstone Smith, Francis J. Beckwith, Dan Hooley, Russell Blackford, John Corvino, Corey McCall, Dan Demetriou, Ajume Wingo, Michael Shermer, Ole Martin Moen, Aksel Braanen Sterri, Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, Jeppe von Platz, John Thrasher, Mary Hawkesworth, William MacAskill, Daniel Halliday, Janine O’Flynn, Yoaav Isaacs, Jason Iuliano, Claire Pickard, Arvin M. Gouw, Tina Rulli, Justin Caouette, Allen Habib, Brian D. Earp, Andrew Vierra, Subrena E. Smith, Danielle M. Wenner, Lisa Diependaele, Sigrid Sterckx, G. Owen Schaefer, Markus K. Labude, Harisan Unais Nasir, Udo Schuklenk, Benjamin Zolf & Woolwine (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy. Springer Verlag. pp. 263-275.
Pornography and Dehumanization: The Essentialist Dimension.Eleonore Neufeld - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):703-717.
Dehumanization.Mari Mikkola - 2011 - In Thom Brooks (ed.), New Waves in Ethics. Palgrave-MacMillan.
Empathetic Repair after Mass Trauma: When Vengeance is Arrested.Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela - 2008 - European Journal of Social Theory 11 (3):331-350.


Added to PP

1,316 (#8,271)

6 months
546 (#2,459)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Andrea Timar
Eotvos Lorand University of Sciences (PhD)

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references