Nathanael West's vision of the end : the Apocalypse as ludicrous

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ashby S. Wilson (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
James Ellis

Abstract: Nathanael West is regarded generally as a deeply pessimistic artist whose dark vision finds nothing but destruction and death in store for humanity. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the implications of Nathanael West's vision of the apocalypse and to argue that his dark warning is tempered by his ironic comedy. The failure of the dream, the futility of the quest, the denial of the wish — these are the central themes in each of West's novels. West tells us that since modern dreams have failed humanity there is no alternative but apocalyptic violence. Throughout West's fiction there is created a pervasive mood of Impending doom, a clear sense that the world is fast approaching the ultimate disaster of apocalypse. Each novel culminates in an act of violence which promises to initiate the apocalypse. However, in American literature there is an apocalyptical tradition which describes the apocalypse as essentially humorous. This thesis argues that West joins this tradition by bringing a comic spirit to his evocation of the coming apocalypse.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1976
West, Nathanael, $d 1903-1940 $x Criticism and interpretation
Apocalyptic literature

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