Self Against Self: Toward Ambiguous Solitude in Modernist Fiction

  • Edward Engelberg


Much has been said about the “existential crisis” so dominant in the isolates of modernist fiction, but far less has been said about the ambiguities that attend the solitary’s choice, from the start. “In solitude, for company, ” wrote W. H. Auden, and this paradoxical counter-point best expresses the double bind that encumbers the solitary throughout western history. Solitaries have often created a variety of strategies in the hope of maintaining a balancing act on a precarious tightrope between psychic exile and its gift of freedom and the recognition, often wistful and sometimes bitter, of the ultimate price that solitude exacts. Some have experienced the joy of solitude and others its miseries, but the possibility that both exist has escaped no one.


Nineteenth Century Eighteenth Century Seventeenth Century Existential Loneliness Existential Crisis 
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© Edward Engelberg 2001

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  • Edward Engelberg

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