Magazine May 17, 2010, Issue

The West’s Burden

Detail of Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, by Rembrandt (1653) (Public domain / Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism, by Pascal Bruckner (Princeton, 256 pp., $26.95)

Ihave always regarded guilt as an overrated emotion. I am not, nota bene, speaking about genuine repentance, through which one acknowledges a fault, makes what amends one can, and then gets on with things. Rather, I am talking about remorse, the hothouse-bred allotrope of repentance. What’s the difference? For one thing, repentance aims at expiation. Remorse aims at emotional enslavement. Forgetting, or at least recognizing a statute of limitations about airing the tort, is a beneficent codicil to effective repentance. Remorse recognizes no terminus. “Remorse does not repent of its sin,” observes Pascal Bruckner in his remarkable new book The

To Read the Full Story
Roger Kimball — Mr. Kimball is publisher of Encounter Books, and co-editor and publisher of The New Criterion.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


The Week

The Week

Even if the new law does not work against illegals, maybe it will keep liberals out of Arizona.


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