Religious Experience and the Modernist Novel

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Cambridge University Press, Jan 7, 2010 - Literary Criticism - 236 pages
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The modernist period witnessed attempts to explain religious experience in non-religious terms. Such novelists as Henry James, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Franz Kafka found methods to describe through fiction the sorts of experiences that had traditionally been the domain of religious mystics and believers. In Religious Experience and the Modernist Novel, Pericles Lewis considers the development of modernism in the novel in relation to changing attitudes to religion. Through comparisons of major novelists with sociologists and psychologists from the same period, Lewis identifies the unique ways that literature addressed the changing spiritual situation of the early twentieth century. He challenges accounts that assume secularisation as the main narrative for understanding twentieth-century literature. Lewis explores the experiments that modernists undertook in order to invoke the sacred without directly naming it, resulting in a compelling study for readers of twentieth-century modernist literature.
 

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Contents

Churchgoing
1
Gods afterlife
23
Henry James and the varieties of religious experience
52
Marcel Proust and the elementary forms of religious life
81
Franz Kafka and the hermeneutics of suspicion III
111
Virginia Woolf and the disenchantment of the world
142
The burial of the dead
170
Notes
193
Select bibliography
223
Index
232
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About the author (2010)

Pericles Lewis is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Yale University. His past publications explore the development of modern literary forms in a period of political and social instability and include Modernism, Nationalism and the Novel (Cambridge, 2000) and The Cambridge Introduction to Modernism (Cambridge, 2007).

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