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81. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 2
Notes on Contributors
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82. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 1
Kevin R. West Tokens of Sin, Badges of Honor: Julian of Norwich and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
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Critical assessment of the Arthurian court in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has ranged from censure to exculpation, with the court’s origins, Arthur’s character, Gawain’s confession, and the court’s laughter variously taken to have great hermeneutical importance. I propose that Gawain’s transformation of the green girdle into a sign of shame, and the court’s reversal of that signification through adoption, compares well with Julian of Norwich’s heavenly vision of “tokyns of synne turnyd to worshyppe.” Approaching the poem by means of Julian’s contemporary, optimistic theology reveals the romance also to be optimistic, a story more of felix culpa than culpa mea.
83. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 1
Larry E. Fink Hopkins’s Influence on Percy’s The Moviegoer
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This article begins with a review of Percy’s published statements about Hopkins’s influence on his fiction, particularly on his use of nature imagery. It appreciates Joseph Bizup’s 1994 article on Percy’s Love in the Ruins and James Wimsatt’s 2006 book, Hopkins’s Poetics of Speech and Sound. Next, it compares Hopkins’s & Percy’s use of sound devices and argues for reading Percy’s prose aloud for a full appreciation of his art. In addition to their sacramental view of nature, some of Hopkins’s personas and Binx Bolling share an ecstatic appreciation for the beauty and intricacy of creation. In preparation for the concluding observations about Binx’s search, his religious state at the beginning of the novel is summarized. The article closes with an analysis of how Percy uses distinctive diction and imagery from several of Hopkins’s best-known poems to suggest the role of the Holy Spirit in Binx’s spiritual journey.
84. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 1
Joshua Avery Faith in the Unseen: Helena’s Sacramental Vision in All’s Well That Ends Well
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This essay argues that heretofore overlooked opening dialogue in All’s Well That Ends Well suggests clues as to the formation of a philosophical vision in Helena that is important to her disposition for the rest of the play. More specifically, references to Catholic-Protestant divisions frame epistemological questions that Helena ultimately resolves in a sacramental direction. I contend that this developed sacramental outlook allows her to make the leap of faith requisite for her successes. In the above respect, I claim that the play, its ambiguous ending notwithstanding, concludes in a genuinely comic vein.
85. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 1
Chene Heady Autobiography as Mystery: Father Brown and the Case of G.K. Chesterton
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In “Autobiography as Mystery: Father Brown and the Case of G.K. Chesterton,” Chene Heady argues that G.K. Chesterton’s Autobiography (1936) complicates common scholarly assumptions about both genre and literary authorship. The popular Edwardian writer G.K. Chesterton produced an improbably vast and diffuse literary oeuvre. Chesterton’s scholarly advocates have typically defending him by redefining him in more specialized and more manageable terms; he becomes either the sage-like nonfiction writer who wrote Orthodoxy or the mystery writer who invented Father Brown. However, Chesterton himself derided the cult of the expert, and mocked the tendency towards literary specialization as elitist. In his Autobiography, he refuses basic genre distinctions by insisting that the work should be read as a detective novel; the work’s climax reverses the relationship between creator and creation, as Father Brown solves the mystery of G.K Chesterton. By making this structural equation between autobiography and mystery, Chesterton asserts the fundamental identity between these hermeneutical enterprises. The Autobiography ultimately posits a fundamental equivalence between all the cultural practices by which we find meaning in the world around us, a premise that serves both to justify Chesterton’s eclectic model of authorship and to enable him to hope for cultural unity in deeply divided interwar Britain.
86. Renascence: Volume > 69 > Issue: 1
Notes on Contributors
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87. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 4
Maire Mullins Prophetic Voice and Sacramental Insight in Walt Whitman’s “Messenger Leaves” Poems
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The fifteen “Messenger Leaves” poems Whitman assembled as part of the third (1860) edition of Leaves of Grass exhibit a tension between the prophetic and the sacramental that would become more significant as the United States entered the decade of the Civil War. Comprised of poems that provide warnings and admonitions (the prophetic) and poems that offer consolation and healing (the sacramental), in “Messenger Leaves” Whitman uses biblical models and texts to appeal to the religious sensibilities of the American people. Although “Messenger Leaves” as a cluster was dissembled in the 1867 edition of Leaves of Grass, its religious themes draw attention to Whitman’s envisioning of the third edition as the “new Bible.”
88. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 4
Anna Głąb The Other as Text: The Ethics of Love in Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot
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Literary fiction is the most appropriate way of describing the phenomenon of love. It appreciates the uniqueness and preciousness of individuals, and it allows for universalizing. By following the experiences of Madeleine and Leonard, the main characters in Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot, I focus on the problem of experiencing love through the lenses of different literary constructs. Following Raimond Gaita, I find that love is a reaction to the preciousness of human beings. Two particularly important aspects are sensitivity and the ability to react to the call of seriousness hidden in the declaration of love. I attempt to evaluate Madeleine's and Leonard's situation by means of the category of moral responsibility and self-awareness.
89. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 4
Michelle Loris Biblical Analogues in Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays
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Joan Didion uses Biblical analogues in her novel Play It As It Lays (1970) to recount the American western myth she learned in her youth, “the story that the wilderness was and is redemptive” (“Thinking about Western Thinking” 14). Her use of scriptural analogues helps us to understand the moral themes in this novel. Situating her novel in America’s most disappointing frontier —Hollywood, Didion uses the Biblical metaphor of the desert to relate a tale of moral chaos illustrated by failed marriages, sexual adultery, forsaken children, and suicide. In Didion’s scriptural analogues, we see, in this Hollywood story, a contemporary wilderness riven by spiritual despair and moral devastation, but a wilderness that can lead to deliverance.
90. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 4
Franklin Arthur Wilson Percy Following Faulkner: A Different Path?
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This article offers four views of Walker Percy’s fourth novel, Lancelot: [1] The novel echoes themes engaged by William Faulkner in two of his works, Sanctuary and Requiem for a Nun ; [2] Lancelot advances Faulkner’s particular assertion that the “past is never dead, it is not even past”; [3] as the novel’s epigraph suggests, Percy also writes Lancelot in relation to Dante Alighieri’s early 14th century poetic allegory, The Divine Comedy; [4] understanding Lancelot as an advancement of Faulkner’s view of history by means of Dante’s theology contradicts Shelby Foote’s memorial hope that Percy would be remembered “not merely [as] an explicator of various philosophers and divines,” but as a novelist in “simple and solemn fact.”
91. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 3
John Curran, Jr. Editor’s Note
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92. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 3
Annika Mizel Righteous Restraint in Hard Times and Jane Eyre
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This article analyzes the emotional maturation of Louisa Gradgrind and Jane Eyre as they move from the extremes of repression and indulgence to expressive moderation. In comparing the emotional lives of the novels’ major and minor characters, it becomes clear that both stories ultimately endorse a Pauline ethic of anger – in stark contrast to the Victorian ideals of their time. In showing how Louisa and Jane navigated cultural mores to reach a place of healthy anger, these novels invite modern readers to do the same – to exercise similar discretion and righteous restraint to secure good and meaningful endings to their lives.
93. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 3
G. J. Bednar From Emptiness to Hunger: Lonergan, Lynch, and Conversion in the Works of Flannery O’Connor
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Bernard Lonergan, SJ, has noted that an empty box does not know it is empty and does not care whether it is empty or full. An empty stomach, on the other hand, knows when it is empty and yearns for what will satisfy it. Flannery O’Connor’s stories present the reader with a parade of characters who are empty boxes in the process of becoming empty stomachs. William Lynch, SJ, said that many times such conversions result from stark encounters with the finite, thus accounting for the grotesque in O’Connor’s stories.
94. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 3
Molly Robinson Kelly Reading Oscar Wilde’s Spirituality in De Profundis
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The article offers a new reading of the central portion of Wilde's famous prison letter, which I call the letter's "spiritual center." In this central section, Wilde contemplates his future and expresses his desire to start a new life, a Vita nuova. As he works to envision in writing a future that can integrate the suffering of his prison experience, he outlines a spiritual vision that is both startlingly original, and informed by varied religious traditions, including Buddhism, Taoism, and the British Occultist movement. In this article, I provide a careful reading of the four tasks Wilde sets out for himself to serve as the foundation for his Vita nuova. In order to better understand the context for Wilde's spiritual writing, I also explore briefly the religious and spiritual influences of the author's life. I conclude with a consideration of the values which underlie Wilde's four tasks, and the spiritual portion of his letter in general; namely, individual self-realization, suffering, and acceptance. Taken together, my article's contextual study and attentive reading of De Profundis's spiritual center offer a new understanding of both Wilde's practical spirituality and the spiritual milieu of the fin-de-siècle.
95. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 3
Paul A. Lacey “So Rich a Consciousness of Time”: A Meditation from Professor Lacey
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Paul A. Lacey’s rich meditation on the importance of reading and re-reading offers sage perspective on Henry James’s The Ambassadors and The Portrait of a Lady. Waxing wise on W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, and A. E. Housman, Lacey’s essay provides a reason not to lose touch with the works we love to read and re-read.
96. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 3
Notes on Contributors
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97. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 2
John Curran, Jr. Editor’s Page
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98. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 2
Norm Klassen Mary’s Swollen Womb: What It Looks Like to Overcome Tyranny in The Second Nun’s Prologue and Tale
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Through the juxtaposition of an image (in the prologue) of Christ in Mary’s womb with that (in the tale) of Almachius as a bladder full of hot air, The Second Nun’s Prologue and Tale contributes to the theme in The Canterbury Tales of overcoming tyranny. While the nun’s tale alone presents an overly forceful apologetic, the image that Chaucer includes in her prologue subtly reminds audiences of a more paradoxical relationship between creator and creatures than that of either tyrant-and-subjects or tale-teller-and-audience-to-be-indoctrinated. Chaucer, if not so much the well-meaning nun, emulates the creator of freedom. So too does the tale-telling fellowship, which reveals Christ in its enduring togetherness, despite the attempts of individual tellers to have the last word.
99. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 2
William Jolliff The Wide Reach of Salvation: Christian Universalism in the Novels of Denise Giardina
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100. Renascence: Volume > 68 > Issue: 2
Laura Alexander The Forbidden Space in Mary, Lady Chudleigh’s “Song: To Lerinda” (1703)
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The Restoration poet Mary, Lady Chudleigh (1656-1710) includes in her Poems on Several Occasions (1703) a short but important work, "Song: To Lerinda," that blends sacred and sexual love between two women. Better known to readers for her proto-feminist perspective in The Ladies Defense (1701), Chudleigh expresses outrage about the poor treatment of wives, though in this work she does not go so far as to suggest a same-sex union as an alternative to traditional marriage for women. Several shorter works in the Poems allude to unorthodox forms of spiritual or erotic experience for women, including "Song: To Lerinda," which, like the majority of her writing, demonstrates Chudleigh’s intellectual range and deep reading of classical philosophy. Willing to take risks in her poetry, Chudleigh re-imagines the Platonic homoerotic love ideal, which she revises to include women’s same-sex desire in the "Song." The imagined experience between the two women in the poem communicates an erotic and philosophical ideal of communal love that embraces rather than rejects physical pleasure as a means of accessing a higher spiritual realm. The love relationship between the women challenges hetero-normative social patterns, and the speaker suggests that same-sex desire is spiritually and sexually preferable for them.