Literary Terrorists

Frank Lentricchia and Jody McAuliffe

in Crimes of Art + Terror

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780226472058
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226472089 | DOI:
Literary Terrorists

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This chapter analyzes the works of William Wordsworth, the Unabomber, and Don DeLillo. Since about 1800, the serious artist is the would-be criminal violator of the order of things, and his role remains consistently romantic because the social condition, for all of its vast changes since Wordsworth, remains, according to serious artists, in deep structural ways, what it was in Wordsworth's day. In defense of becoming an enemy of the people, Wordsworth offers the classic apologia of the avant-garde artist: that he is in reality the people's good doctor. This is a defense on the highly educated, manifesto-writing domestic terrorist known as the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, who has been described as a “philosophical criminal” of “humanitarian purpose”.

Keywords: serious artists; William Wordsworth; Unabomber; Don DeLillo; Theodore Kaczynski

Chapter.  8348 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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