“There has been something in my literature, from the first, that goes hand in glove with shame. To be honest, when I published my first books, I expected to bring a certain shame on myself (even though, as I said before, I’ve always hated putting myself forward). What actually happened, and it was a wonderful surprise, was that readers came up to me and said, ‘Not at all, what you describe are human things, some true of human beings in general, others specific to human beings in modern Western societies . . . In fact, we are grateful for you for having the courage to expose them, for having shouldered that part of shame . . .”
—Michel Houellebecq, Public Enemies.
It’s never fully possible to anticipate reader response, which Eco wrote about too.
Shame’s meaning and role does seem to shift with time and place, and yet it gets little airtime in contemporary Western culture.