Guilt makes no compromises. One may be a little in love or a little bit angry, but the idea of degrees of guilt is meaningless. Any guilt, whether of the emotional, religious or legal variety, is fiendishly intense. The word itself points to a mysterious intensity of indebtedness, and this with an absolution extraordinary in human affairs.
This book aims to go to the heart of the mystery. Its theme, that of the absolutism of guilt, is explored from a variety of different perspectives and through a series of anecdotes. The author examines the sources of the word "guilt"
languages and cultures without the concept of guilt
the religious importance and meaning of guilt, in Judaism, Christianity and other religions
psychological investigations of guilt, by Freud and Jung, among others
guilt and criminal behaviour
guilt and mourning
the effect of guilt as a creative stimulant in modern times, on literature, art, politics, law and film
and the mysterious persistence of guilt in modern secular societies
Throughout, the text is supported with quotations from authors ancient and modern.