Ethics and Nostalgia in the Contemporary Novel


Ethics and Nostalgia in the Contemporary Novel



Images of loss and yearning played a crucial role in literary texts written in the later part of the twentieth century. Despite deep cultural differences, novelists from Africa, the Caribbean, Great Britain, and the United States share a sense that the economic, social, and political forces associated with late modernity have evoked widespread nostalgia within the communities in which they write. In this original and wide-ranging study, John J. Su explores the relationship between nostalgia and ethics in novels across the English-speaking world. He challenges the tendency in literary studies to characterise memory as positive and nostalgia as necessarily negative. Instead, this book argues that nostalgic fantasies are crucial to the ethical visions presented by topical novels. From Jean Rhys to Wole Soyinka and from V. S. Naipaul to Toni Morrison, Su identifies nostalgia as a central concern in the twentieth-century novel.



Publication Date



Cambridge University Press




English Language and Literature


Table of Contents

Introduction: nostalgia, ethics, and contemporary Anglophone literature

1. Narratives of return: locating ethics in the age of globalisation

2. Nostalgia and narrative ethics in Caribbean literature

3. 'Loss was in the order of things': recalling loss, reclaiming place in Native American fiction

4. Refiguring national character: the remains of the British estate novel

5. Appeasing an embittered history: trauma and nationhood in the writings of Achebe and Soyinka

Conclusion: nostalgia and its futures

Ethics and Nostalgia in the Contemporary Novel