Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 28 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This essay begins by contextualizing atheism in the larger history of literature, locating the first sustained uses of unbelief as a literary theme in the Western world during the first half of the nineteenth century. Schweizer then goes on to clarify fundamental terminological issues such as the distinction between atheism, Satanism, and misotheism, as well as that between implicit and explicit literary atheism. Next follow four case studies of literary atheism, as Schweizer outlines the functions and characteristics of atheism in Büchner’s Danton’s Death, Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, Camus’s The Plague, and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s 36 Arguments for the Existence of God. Schweizer concludes that the role of atheism in literature has morphed from being a touchstone for radical and existential moral questions in earlier fiction to serving as a vehicle for metafictional humour and ironic self-inspection in contemporary writing.

Keywords: blasphemy, God, humanism, misotheism, Problem of Evil, Theodicy, Satanism, Camus, Dostoyevsky, Büchner, Goldstein

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.