Agents and Lives offers a new and important rethinking of the traditional "humanist" view of literature. That tradition's valuation of literature for its "moral import" is extended in a wider, more complex, open and exploratory understanding of those terms. Goldberg's argument ranges across literature since the Renaissance, focusing on examples from George Eliot's novels and Pope's poetry. An appendix assesses the relationship of his argument to recent accounts of literature offered by moral philosophers such as Iris Murdoch, Bernard Williams, Martha Nussbaum and Richard Rorty.
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