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Sin and EvilMoral Values in Literature$
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Ronald Paulson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780300120141

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300120141.001.0001

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Modern Sin and Evil

Modern Sin and Evil

(p.301) Chapter Eight Modern Sin and Evil
Sin and Evil

Ronald Paulson

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the two distinctive evils during the twentieth century: war and genocide. These were public evils, not that there was a dearth of private. Public evil is a matter of magnitude, as if the death of Catherine Barkley—or the rape of Temple Drake—had spread to all the citizens of the United States and the world. The killing of Poe's black cat was private and personal, as were the crimes of the novels by James, Faulkner, and Greene, though the guilt may spread from two to four, from four outward into the public domain. Up to this point, evil was one on one, now whole armies and races were being destroyed. Now, every kind of evil was writ large, including the scope and nature of vengeance as the Russian armies swept toward Berlin.

Keywords:   distinctive evils, war, genocide, public evils, nature of vengeance

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