William (Christopher) Barrett JOHN V. McDONNELL - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Convinced that modern academic philosophy has largely given up on its responsibility to pursue the meaning of human life or even to ask the questions most vital to man, philosopher William Barrett [in Time of Need: Forms of Imagination in the Twentieth Century] turns to the testimony of modern art for a schema of the human condition. His choice of artists is wide and varied, ranging from Camus and Hemingway to sculptor Henry Moore and director Stanley Kubrick. The prevalent theme is, of course, nihilism and the struggle of major artists to express the plight of man alone in a universe bereft of meaning and value. The author's approach is leisurely and informal, more the result of his "haphazard reading and...

(The entire section is 495 words.)