© 2018

God and Self in the Confessional Novel


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. John D. Sykes Jr.
    Pages 1-11
  3. John D. Sykes Jr.
    Pages 115-140
  4. John D. Sykes Jr.
    Pages 141-151
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 153-157

About this book


God and Self in the Confessional Novel explores the question: what happened to the theological practice of confession when it entered the modern novel?  Beginning with the premise that guilt remains a universal human concern, this book considers confession via the classic confessional texts of Augustine and Rousseau. Employing this framework, John D. Sykes, Jr. examines Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, Percy’s Lancelot, and McEwan’s Atonement to investigate the evolution of confession and guilt in literature from the eighteenth century to the early twenty-first century.


Augustine Rousseau guilt in literature the self in literature confession in literature Catholic guilt Catholic confession theology Goethe Dostoevsky Walker Percy Ian McEwan Atonement God and literature first person narrator novel religious practice in literature

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Wingate UniversityWingateUSA

About the authors

John D. Sykes, Jr. is the Mary and Harry Brown Professor of English and Religion at Wingate University, USA.  He is the author of Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, and the Aesthetic of Revelation (2007) and has published widely in the field of theology and literature.

Bibliographic information


“Sykes’s God & Self in the Confessional Novel is a useful resource for those interested in the religious dimensions of the modern confessional novel or who have an interest in the lasting legacy of Augustine’s or Rousseau’s Confessions. Even with the missed opportunities of exploring the ethical implications of confession beyond the novel, this book gives scholars and students of theology and literature much to ponder.” (Lauren D. Sawyer, Reading Religion,, January, 2018)