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What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character? 
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Post What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
The only older novels like this I already know of is Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky and also Catcher in the Rye. The only one I can think of that would be recent is Child of God by Cormac McCarthy. I would think that existentialist literature would be filled with this kind of material. But for the purposes of this post I would like the novels that I end up picking to preferably meet all three qualities in the main character; loneliness, isolation, alienation. Thanks.



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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
evangelist884 wrote:
The only older novels like this I already know of is Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky and also Catcher in the Rye. The only one I can think of that would be recent is Child of God by Cormac McCarthy. I would think that existentialist literature would be filled with this kind of material. But for the purposes of this post I would like the novels that I end up picking to preferably meet all three qualities in the main character; loneliness, isolation, alienation. Thanks.


Interesting question.The Scarlet Letter comes to mind immediately. So does Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Actually many classic ghost stories seem to center around these three themes: loneliness, isolation, and alienation, including, for example, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. More recent novels include Stephen King's Bag of Bones, which features a protagonist who is trying to come to terms with his wife's death. The first third of the book focuses almost exclusively on this period of bereavement, lasting several years. For all that, The Shining, is all about loneliness and isolation. And finally, I'm reminded of Ursula le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness, which is about an ambassador who is sent to a remote and very cold planet to try to convince the ambisexual (no fixed gender) people to join a sort of confederation of planets. The main character is very much out of his element and must endure plenty of hardships on his journey.

Edit: Oh, and Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.


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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
I'm kinda interested in novels that are dirty and gritty and more focused on the main character's thoughts/feelings, etc. Less focus on plot elements, and the author doesn't shy away from being graphic about the characters. Hopefully that makes sense.



Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:57 pm
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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four definitely fits this bill. Winston Smith, as the 'everyman' named after Churchill, represents the rational moral individual failing to cope with a social dystopia, in an existential crisis where he is unable to express his authentic identity due to the shallow intolerant anonymity of prevailing cultural values.


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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
Absolutely, 1984. the book is ABOUT loneliness, social isolation and alienation.


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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
For me, Albert Camus' 'The Fall' will definitely top as an answer.
Also, Kafka's classic Metamorphosis because the metaphor of somebody turning into a bug upon suddenly waking up one day and the accompanying isolation and helplessness is truly about the themes that your questions address.



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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
thank you ellissa and geo for your feedback. i will look into the Camus novel. Im somewhat familiar with but havent yet read 1984 and Metamorphosis. I'm sure they're worth reading but at the moment I'm interested in novels that explore the themes I mentioned, but also in a certain way that's difficult for me to put in to words. Anyway, thanks for your feedback everyone :)



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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
Levin in Anna Karenina is depicted as a lonely character who spends a great deal of his time alone thinking and rethinking about the purpose of his existence until he can't decide and is forever plagued with doubts.


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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
Of Human Bondage is very much about the author's awkwardness during his youth (which he outgrew as he matured and realized that it wasn't his fault.)

A Conferacy of Dunces is about someone who is an oddball and an outsider, although it's debatable whether he realizes he is, or whether he cares.

A lot of previous replies are focused on existentialism - as illustrated by dystopian universes, philosophical self reflectio - but that's only one way to approach it. There's also a human level.



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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
Classic russian novels are really good at portraying isolation and loneliness. I would recommend Nikolai Gogol's Diary of a Madman and The Overcoat. Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis is also a book that I would add to the list. Hardcover copies of books are my favorite.



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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter



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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
I agree that "Catcher in the Rye" and "Of Human Bondage" definitely fall into this category, I would also suggest "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood. While the main theme is about social dysfunction, you cannot ignore the narrator/protagonist's feelings of isolation, depression, etc.


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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
I try not to read anything too sad and depressing but when someone mentioned Cormac McCarthy I remembered 'The Road'. Although the father is with his son, it is about two people facing up to a new, frightening world alone. It's a fantastic book with a heartbreaking ending.



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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
The Painted room by Lounis Tiar. the story is set in a room in isolation



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Post Re: What are some novels that depict loneliness, social isolation and alienation in the main character?
One which just came to mind is, believe it or not, Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein." Several chapters are from the "Monster's" (though I don't like to call him that) point of view, and show his feelings of isolation, loneliness, etc.


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