>Love of Life< Versus >Love of Death<: A Frommian Perspective on Charles Johnson’s >Middle Passage< [application of Fromm's theories to art]

  • According to Fromm, the life instinct constitutes the primary potentiality in man, while the death instinct a secondary potentiality, and which of the two prevails depending crucially on the living conditions that the subject experiences during his or her childhood. Not limited to the individual level, Fromm‘s observation works on the collective level as well. Different environments foster different potentialities and lead to the formation of different cultures and ethics. A biophilic ethics treasures the value of love, peace, reciprocal altruism and unity of being, while a biophobic ethics is more addicted to hatred, violence, dualistic confrontation, and mutual destruction. Applying Fromm‘s theory to the interpretation of Charles Johnson‘s >Middle Passage< , readers can get a newly enlightened understanding of this award-winning masterpiece. Based on Fromm‘s hypothesis about human nature, this article analyzes the representation of the confrontations between the biophobic ethics and the biophilic ethics in this novel, the former being embodied by Captain Falcon‘s >syndrome of decay< which is also Johnson‘s critical metaphor of Western civilization, while the latter embodied by the Allmuseri culture‘s >syndrome of growth< which represents Johnson‘s idealistic imagination of the sum of non-Western civilization.

Export metadata

Additional Services

Share in Twitter Search Google Scholar
Author:Yanyan Jia, Houliang Chen
Parent Title (English):Journal of Literature and Art Studies: English Version [文学与艺术研究:英文版], Vol. 5 (No. 3, 2015), pp.181-190. [DOI, fulltext: 10.17265/2159-5836/2015.03.004]
Document Type:Articles
Year of first Publication:2015
Release Date:2016/09/29
Format:no download and copy possible
Writings about Erich Fromm (Secondary Literature):Articles / Artikel
Erich Fromm's Library and Erich Fromm Archive:Articles / Artikel
Licence (German):