Crimes, Sins, and Monstrosities
Evil in Literature
  A Bibliography on Evil


Ignatieff, Michael. The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2003.

In the age of terrorism, the temptations of ruthlessness can be overwhelming. Yet a violent response to violence arguably makes us morally indistinguishable from our enemies. There is perhaps no greater political challenge today than trying to win the war against terror without losing our democratic souls. Ignatieff confronts this challenge head-on, with a combination of hard-headed idealism, historical sensitivity and political judgment. We may need to kill to fight the greater evil of terrorism, but we must never pretend that doing so is anything better than a lesser evil.

Jenyns, Soame. Free Enquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil. London: Taylor & Francis, 1976.

This is a treatise, consisting of six letters, on what the author calls a "free enquiry."

Jooharigian, Robert B. God and Natural Evil. Bristol: Wyndham Hall P, 1985.

Katz, Fred E. E. Ordinary People and Extraordinary Evil: A Report on the Beguilings of Evil. Albany: State U of New York P, 1993.

Katz posits that our most ordinary behavior can lead us to participate in the most horrendous acts, perhaps even with zeal and joy, but certainly without remorse. Using the Holocaust as the pivotal example, he examines the lives of random people in Auschwitz.

Katz, Jack L. Seductions of Crime: The Moral and Sensual Attractions of Doing Evil. New York: Basic, 1988.

A UCLA sociologist tries to get inside the criminal psyche to understand what it means or feels, signifies, sounds, tastes, or looks like to do any particular crime.

Lampert, Laurence. Nietzsche's Task: An Interpretation of Beyond Good and Evil. New Haven: Yale UP, 2001

According to Lampert, Nietzsche shows how philosophy can arrive at a defensible ontological account of the way of all beings and argues that a new post-Christian religion can arise out of the affirmation of the world disclosed to philosophy. Nietzsche's comprehensive depiction of an anti-Platonic philosophy ends with a chapter on nobility, in which he contends that what can now be publicly celebrated as noble in our species are its highest achievements of mind and spirit.

Lara, Maria Pia, ed. Rethinking Evil. Berkeley: U California P, 2001.

María Pía Lara brings together a set of essays that reexamine evil in the context of a "postmetaphysical" world, a world that no longer equates natural and human evil and no longer believes in an omnipotent God. The question of how and why God permits evil events to occur is replaced by the question of how and why humans perform radically evil acts.

Larrimore, Mark, ed. The Problem of Evil: A Reader. Malden: Blackwell, 2001.

Divided into Beginnings, Before Theodicy, The Rise of Theodicy, Beyond Optimism, and The Twentieth Century, the book contains 66 writings on the problem of evil by philosophers from Plato to Aquinas to Kant to Nietzsche to Levinas.

Lee, Kam-Lun E. E. Augustine, Manichaeism, and the Good. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1999.

Lee highlights the influence of Manichaeism on the thinking of Augustine, focusing on his earlier writings, before 400 C.E., and the topic of Good and Evil.

Lemert, Edwin M. The Trouble with Evil: Social Control at the Edge of Morality. Albany: State U New York P, 1997.

Lemert investigates evil to better understand the motivations of social deviance. He examines conditions that produce evil actions, and social reactions to them, concluding that both evil and sorcery are special anti-social acts that are not subject to ordinary social and legal controls.

Lomax, J. Harvey. Nietzsche's New Nobility and the Eternal Recurrence in Beyond Good and Evil: A Paradox of Philosophic Education. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

Lomax sets aside the anti-rationalist, nihilist Nietzsche and reveals him as a poet-philosopher in – and in conflict with – the Platonic and Socratic traditions. He also provides a passage-by-passage explication of chapters 1 and 2 of Beyond Good and Evil.

Lovatt, Mark. Confronting the Will-to-Power: A Reconsideration of the Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr. Waynesboro: Authentic Media, 2001.

Lovatt takes up Niebuhr's theology and presents it as being, ultimately, an attempt to grapple with the most powerful and dangerous aspect of human nature: a quality Niebuhr describes as the "will-to-power." Lovatt discusses the main areas of doctrine covered by Niebuhr, and considers how his position reflects his underlying agenda to grapple with the reality of the will-to-power.

Lowe,Walter. Evil and the Unconscious. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1983.

Macdonald, Scott C., ed. Being and Goodness: The Concept of Good in Metaphysical and Philosophical Theology. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1991.

Twelve scholarly essays probe the works of Augustine, Boethius, Descartes, Leibniz, and Aquinas, to touch upon such issues as the nature of evil, human morality, and goodness and the divine.

Maritain, Jacques. St. Thomas and the Problem of Evil. Milwaukee: Marquette UP, 1942.

McGinn, Colin. Ethics, Evil, and Fiction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999.

The book brings together moral philosophy and literary analysis in a way that offers new insights for both. Its central aim is to enrich the domain of moral reflection, by showing the value of literary texts as sources of moral illumination. McGinn starts by setting out an uncompromisingly realist ethical theory, arguing that morality is an area of objective truth and genuine knowledge. Works discussed include Billy Budd, Lolita, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Frankenstein. McGinn draws on examples from film and painting as well as literature.

McFarlane, Adrian A. Grammar of Fear and Evil: A Husserlian-Wittgensteinian Hermeneutic. New York: Peter Lang, 1997.

The book examines the phenomenon of fear as a primary context for the problem of evil. It claims that whereas the locution "evil" is primarily a religious interpretation of life's troubling experiences, fear is the primary experience on which this interpretation builds. Thus, the problem of evil has to be seen in the light of the fears that inform our interpretations. A grammar of fear makes possible both the description and the modalization of fear. The one deals with the ongoing relations between self and world, while the other deals with the ways in which the relationships are approached. One of the ways of dealing with these relationships is to attribute ultimate significance – evil and good – to the threats and securities we experience.

Meierding, Loren. God, Relationships, and Evil. Lincoln: Universe, 2000.

The book's first part offers an analysis of the two primary historical approaches to theodicy – the free-will theodicy originated by Augustine and the "soul-making" or character development theodicy elaborated by John Hick. But the great value of human free will and character development does not seem adequately to justify all the evil we perceive. The second part shows why development of relationships between God and human beings requires considerable evil. Justifications for permitting horrific evils including holocausts and world wars are given. The final part provides an analysis of the argument from evil including forms of the argument that have appeared in recent years in philosophical journals.

Mercatante, Anthony S. Good and Evil: Mythology and Folklore. New York: HarperCollins, 1978.

Covering the spectrum of mythology and folklore from ancient Egypt to present-day Voodoo, this book presents gods and goddesses, demons and angels, heroes and villains, demonstrating how they have been used to explain the battle between good and evil.

Midgley, Mary. Wickedness: Philosophical Essay. London: Routledge, 1990.

The book explores human evolution with conflicting motives and high intelligence. It gives a clearer view of wickedness and does not commit us to a fatalistic acceptance of evil. It sets out to delineate not so much the nature of wickedness as its actual sources. Midgley's analysis proves that the capacity for real wickedness is an inevitable part of human nature.

Miller, Arthur G., ed. Perspectives on Evil and Violence: A Special Issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review. Vol. 3. Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999.

Morell, Tracey. Impulses and Evil: A Quick View of Three New Theoretical Approaches to Problems of the Condition. [Bloomington, IN:] AuthorHouse, 2000.

Morton, Sarah, Adam Pink, and Adam Morton. On Evil. London: Taylor & Francis, 2004.

Myers, Edward P. Problem of Evil and Suffering. Montgomery: Howard, 1978.


Updated August 9, 2011

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