Between Human and Divine

Between Human and Divine: The Catholic Vision in Contemporary Literature

edited by Mary R. Reichardt
Copyright Date: 2010
DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Between Human and Divine
    Book Description:

    Between Human and Divine is the first collection of scholarly essays published on a wide variety of contemporary (post 1980) Catholic literary works and artists. Its aim is to introduce readers to recent and emerging writers and texts in the tradition.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1812-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.1
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.2
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Mary R. Reichardt
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.3

    Flannery O’Connor once remarked that all fiction that portrays reality as it is truly seen and experienced in the world may be considered Catholic fiction.¹ I have long been pondering this statement because there is, in its essence, something quite accurate about it. If a close and contemplative gaze on human beings interacting with their world is the authors’ domain, then a writer, no matter what his or her religious beliefs, shares that which is deeply integral to the Catholic vision. For over two thousand years, this vision has fostered a rich variety of artistic expressions. Throughout the ages and...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Shades of Redemption in Alice McDermott’s Novels
    (pp. 15-31)
    Patricia L. Schnapp
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.4

    It would be hard to imagine a course offered in American Catholic literature today that did not include one of Alice McDermott’s novels. Because she draws on her Irish-Catholic background for many of her novels’ settings, they are replete with references to the Mass, rosaries, novenas, and the rituals and sacramentals that give the Catholicism she has been immersed in most of her life its distinctive character. But do such references alone make a work of fiction “Catholic”? In his collection of essays A Stay against Confusion, Catholic author and critic Ron Hansen writes of his belief that all great...

  5. CHAPTER 2 How Far Can You Go? to Therapy Catholicism and Postmodernism in the Novels of David Lodge
    (pp. 32-49)
    Daniel S. Lenoski
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.5

    In an article written in 1988, Terry Eagleton, the Marxist critic, pointed out that the novelist David Lodge’s Catholicism was ambiguous and “almost wholly unmarked by spiritual passion.”¹ Though he continued to go to Mass until 1992, Lodge has confirmed his ambivalence by calling himself an “agnostic Catholic,”² writing comic novels about Catholicism, and clearly moving in his criticism and fiction toward post-structuralism and postmodernism. On the other hand, as I have shown in a previous article on The British Museum Is Falling Down (1965), to say that Lodge’s “Catholicism makes little difference to his conventional liberal wisdom other than...

  6. CHAPTER 3 “Descending Theology” The Poetry of Mary Karr
    (pp. 50-68)
    Robert P. Lewis
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.6

    Mary Karr’s most recent volume of poems, Sinners Welcome (2006), confirms the depth at which her conversion to Catholicism in 1996 has taken imaginative root. Karr’s first two volumes of poetry, Abacus (1987) and The Devil’s Tour (1993), assess, even more intimately than her bestselling memoirs of childhood and adolescence in southeast Texas The Liars’ Club(1995) and Cherry (2000), the emotional toll her volatile family environment took on her and the imprudent intensities the poet courted to fill the affective void. Her 1998 collection of poetry, Viper Rum, alludes to the alcoholism that precipitated Karr’s resort to prayer and to...

  7. CHAPTER 4 An Irish Catholic Novel? The Example of Brian Moore and John McGahern
    (pp. 69-85)
    Eamon Maher
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.7

    The issue of Catholicism is a fraught one in Ireland, a nation that only secured autonomy from British colonial rule in 1921 after centuries of strife and rebellion, much of which was the result of the attempts by the Empire to force the indigenous population to abandon their Catholic faith in favor of Anglicanism. One of the strongest elements in Irish nationalism consequently became its close identification with the Catholic religion. Ireland being an island nation, “Catholic Christianity linked Irish identity into a wider, transnational network of authority and belief and community.”¹ Links with Catholic countries on the European mainland,...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Never-Ending Reformation Miguel Delibes’s The Heretic
    (pp. 86-102)
    Salvador A. Oropesa
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.8

    Together with Graham Greene (1904–91) and Heinrich Böll (1917–85), Spanish author Miguel Delibes (1920– ) ranks as one of the most prominent European Catholic writers of the second half of the twentieth century. His work El hereje, or The Heretic (1998; English translation 2006), is his testament as a novelist and a summary of many issues that preoccupied him throughout his writing career. Indeed, Delibes himself was something of a “heretic” his whole life. During the Spanish Civil War he fought with Francisco Franco’s nationalists instead of the progressive Republic in order to defend his Catholic faith, yet...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Some Contexts for Current Catholic Women’s Memoir Patricia Hampl and Her Contemporaries
    (pp. 103-118)
    Nan Metzger and Wendy A. Weaver
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.9

    “The memoir,” Patricia Hampl tells us, “once considered a marginal literary form, has emerged in the past decade as the signature genre of the age.”¹ Of course, this news is brought to us in a memoir about memoir, Hampl’s signature genre. Nevertheless, the recent proliferation of the memoir and fiction disguised as memoir (for example, Memoirs of a Geisha; Confessions of a Wall Street Shoeshine Boy; A Million Little Pieces), support Hampl’s claim and that of a recent New York Times cover story aptly titled “The Age of the Literary Memoir.”² Marginalized though it has been in certain periods, this...

  10. CHAPTER 7 “A Ransom of Cholers” Catastrophe, Consolation, and Catholicism in Jon Hassler’s Staggerford, North of Hope, and The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy’s Nephew
    (pp. 119-135)
    Ed Block
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.10

    As they have about Graham Greene, Flannery O’Connor, and André Dubus, critics disagree about whether to call Minnesota author Jon Hassler a “Catholic novelist.” In this essay I skirt that formulation of the question, proposing that, whatever his conscious (or unconscious) intentions, Hassler’s worldview—as we can infer it from his work—is decidedly Catholic. I address this question by considering three works from different times in his career: Staggerford (1977), his first novel; North of Hope (1996), the supreme achievement of his work in the 1990s; and The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy’s Nephew, the second of two...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Our Litany The Varied Voices and Common Vision of Three Contemporary Catholic Poets
    (pp. 136-153)
    Gary M. Bouchard
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.11

    There was a time not very long ago when Catholic poets, novelists, and playwrights were as much a part of the American and English literary landscape as writers of any other stripe; a time when one would not have to go searching to find a prominent Catholic author, and that writer would not have to blush when found. Consider the literary presence and prominence of but a few of the Catholic authors from the decades of the mid-twentieth century. In the United States: Flannery O’Connor, Katherine Anne Porter, Walker Percy, Allen Tate, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Mary McCarthy, Tennessee Williams,...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Graham Greene’s Monsignor Quixote A Pilgrimage of Doubt and Reason toward Faith and Belief
    (pp. 154-170)
    Michael G. Brennan
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.12

    The 1978 Christmas issue of the British Catholic journal The Tablet included a short story, “How Father Quixote Became a Monsignor,” subsequently revised to become the first chapter of Graham Greene’s last major novel, Monsignor Quixote, published in 1982. Set in post-Franco Spain, both short story and novel mischievously play with their readers’ expectations of the traditional distinctions between fiction and reality by making the monsignor a direct descendant of his renowned fictional namesake in Cervantes’ Don Quixote. A sense of amiable comedy pervades Greene’s novel, which derives much of its scenic descriptions, theological discussions, and incidental details from his...

  13. CHAPTER 10 Contemporary British Catholic Writers Alice Thomas Ellis, Piers Paul Read, William Brodrick, and Jonathan Tulloch
    (pp. 171-188)
    J. C. Whitehouse
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.13

    Despite an ongoing and widespread distrust of Catholicism, Britain in the mid–eighteen hundreds was no longer the Protestant police state it had been in the worst penal years. The second half of the eighteenth century and the early decades of the nineteenth saw the growth of a more tolerant climate of opinion and the consequent introduction of certain reforms. Against a background of significant if not total political and social reform epitomized by the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, and as a result of a religion strengthened by the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in 1851 and the consolidating...

  14. CHAPTER 11 The Contemporary Catholic Bildungsroman Passionate Conviction in Shūsaku Endō’s The Samurai and Mary Gordon’s Men and Angels
    (pp. 189-206)
    Nancy Ann Watanabe
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.14

    My aim in this chapter is to use a traditional genre approach to shed light on aspects of two novels published during the same decade, the 1980s, by Catholic authors who are separated by geographical, national, and linguistic boundaries. Born in Tokyo in 1923, the Japanese author Shūsaku Endō was baptized into the Catholic faith as a boy by his mother, who had converted to Roman Catholicism. He was given the Christian name Paul in honor of St. Paul, the apostle whose name was changed from Saul to Paul when he converted to Christianity. American Mary Gordon was raised in...

  15. CHAPTER 12 “Art with Its Largesse and Its Own Restraint” The Sacramental Poetics of Elizabeth Jennings and Les Murray
    (pp. 207-225)
    Stephen McInerney
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.15

    In the peroration to his Lectures on Poetry, delivered in the first half of the nineteenth century, John Keble, the Anglican poet and priest, declared, “Poetry lends religion her wealth of symbols and similes; religion restores them again to poetry, clothed with so splendid a radiance that they appear to be no longer symbols, but to partake (I might almost say) of the nature of sacraments.”¹ Almost fifty years later, Matthew Arnold argued that since the “fact” had failed it, the strongest part of religion was the “unconscious poetry” of its rites and rituals.² A hundred years later still, the...

  16. CHAPTER 13 The Estrangement of Emilio Sandoz, S.J. Othering in Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow
    (pp. 226-241)
    Davin Heckman
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.16

    The mere mention of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit order, evokes strong responses, both positive and negative, among those who know the name. Even the Oxford English Dictionary, based on popular usage, gives “a dissembling person; a prevaricator” as one definition of “Jesuit.” These ambiguous feelings are not confined to members of the Roman Catholic faith, to whom the Jesuits belong. Though the order was formally suppressed by Pope Clement XIV in 1773 (and later restored by Pope Pius VII in 1814), until recently their bitterest rivals were the Protestant sects like the Calvinists and Lutherans, whose theology and...

  17. CHAPTER 14 Restoring the Imago Dei Transcendental Realism in the Fiction of Michael D. O’Brien
    (pp. 242-261)
    Dominic Manganiello
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.17

    Catholic fiction in Canada has often been marked by a strong integral humanism. Contemporary Canadian writers such as Morley Callaghan and Hugh Hood both acknowledged the seminal influence the philosophy of Jacques Maritain exerted on their work, especially his emphasis on the dignity of the human person rooted in the Incarnation. Michael D. O’Brien’s recent novels in The Children of the Last Days series reflect the same personalism espoused by his predecessors, but with some important nuances. While Morley Callaghan expressed his fascination with the struggle between good and evil that stirs continually in the human heart, literary critics have...

  18. CHAPTER 15 Maiden Mothers and Little Sisters The Convent Novel Grows Up
    (pp. 262-280)
    Meoghan B. Cronin
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.18

    It appears at first glance that the convent girl is a figure lost to contemporary Catholic fiction. The convent itself, as a literary setting, suggests the quaintness of a castle, the mysterious and silent remains of old oppressions. Without its inhabitants, the cloister is but a curiosity, a relic with none but emblematic meaning in fiction. In late-twentieth-and early-twenty-first-century fiction, girls are no longer sent to convent school to await directives from God or man, in either the form of a vocation or an approved suitor. Mention convent fiction (as I do often) and you are usually asked about In...

  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 281-290)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.19
  20. About the Editor and Contributors
    (pp. 291-296)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.20
  21. Index
    (pp. 297-304)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt2851tr.21