Cynicism in literature

Overview[ edit ] Modern cynicism has been defined as an attitude of distrust toward claimed ethical and social values and a rejection of the need to be socially involved. You may improve this articlediscuss the issue on the talk pageor create a new articleas appropriate. November Learn how and when to remove this template message It has been claimed that "healthy skepticism may have given way to corrosive cynicism". In conservative politician and political theorist William J.

Cynicism in literature

What Is Cynicism in Literature? The Cynics were ancient Greeks, followers of the ideals of Socrates, who believed that challenging the status quo was the way to truth. That idea survives still, although Cynic literature does not.

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The First Cynic The first Cynic was Antisthenes, Cynicism in literature set the pattern for followers of his short-lived philosophy by practicing a lifestyle of extreme asceticism, renouncing worldly goods and living through self-reliance.

The philosophy of self-denial, quite similar to the one developed by Gautama Buddha, proved to be such a difficult path to follow that most adherents branched into another philosophy, Stoicism, the belief in bearing ills without complaint.

Nietzsche, a Modern Cynic Cynicism in literature therefore arises from a philosophical basis that encompasses both anarchy -- since few human beings have the ability to self-govern -- and self-denial.

This gave birth to literary genres such as satirical and existential writings.

What Is Cynicism in Literature? | Pen and the Pad

A characteristically cynical work is Nietzsche's "The Gay Science," in which he takes on the myth of Diogenes, who carried a lighted lamp in the daytime in search of a human being. Nietzsche's Diogenes figure is a lunatic seeking God; he must finally declare that God is dead.


Shakespeare's Great Cynic Memorable cynical characters in literature carry the dual burdens of anarchic thought and self-denial. Iago, in Shakespeare's "Othello," says of himself, "I am nothing if not critical," and proceeds to satirically dissect the flaws of both himself and the characters around him, all the while enacting an horrific plot to destroy his general Othello with jealous rumors.

Iago foreshadows the logical end of the cynical philosophy when he veers into God-denying nihilism. Asked to explain himself, his reply is truly cynical: Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article.Cynicism--not the superficial cynicism that snarls and sneers, but the cynicism that can go with courtesy and tenderness--that was the note of Mrs.

View in context To gaze into the depths of blue of the child's eyes and pronounce their loveliness a trick of premature cunning was to be guilty of a cynicism in preference to which I naturally.

In the list of works ascribed to Antisthenes by Diogenes Laërtius, writings on language, dialogue and literature far outnumber those on ethics or politics, although they may reflect how his philosophical interests changed with time.

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. The Cynic Philosophers: From Diogenes to Julian (Penguin Classics) [Various, Robert Dobbin] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A unique new volume illuminating the philosophy of the ancient Greek and Roman Cynics The Greek Cynics owned no property and rejected fame and fortune/5(10).

His influence was weakened, however, by his cynicism and by his ultra-aristocratic views. Disregarding all the accidental excrescences of the doctrine, Cynicism must be regarded as a most valuable development and as a real asset in the sum of ethical speculation.

Cynicism is a property, a view of life and can be expressed ironically or sarcastically – but not a stylistic figure.

Cynicism in literature

Friedrich Theodor Vischer, a German philosopher, put it this way: Cynicism [ ] is a way of revealing, dealing with the filth, acting with consciousness in such a way that a certain accent falls on it. American Cynicism from Boston Review. And its cure.

Cynicism in literature