• Andrew Rutherford


The assumption that heroism, like saintliness, is obsolete as an ideal, and that the literature of heroism belongs to the childhood of the individual or of the race, seems typical of current intellectual opinion. Fortitude is out of fashion as a virtue. Indeed the portrayal of courage in the face of adversity, suffering or danger is now positively suspect in the eyes of many readers, whose unexamined ethical assumptions often predetermine their aesthetic judgments on the literature of war (leading them, for example, to see Falstaff’s views on Honour as more normative than Hal’s, or to discount war poetry when it is not antiwar). The deflation of specifically chivalric folly in Don Quixote has been extended to the whole profession of Arms—which Cervantes himself rated higher than that of Letters—and thence to all varieties of courage and self-sacrifice.


Aesthetic Judgment Civil Life Psychological Reality Paradise Lost Heroic Poetry 
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Copyright information

© Andrew Rutherford 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Rutherford
    • 1
  1. 1.Goldsmiths’ CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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