Literature, Arts, and Religion
This issue of Bucknell Review offers a collection of papers that discuss a wide range of art and literary forms, their religious content, and the interactions among them. Fiction, drama, and poetry exemplify literary forms; sculpture, music, and dance represent the arts. The religious content is as formally direct as biblical stories represented in sculpture and as indirect as the sense of the grotesque in everyday life. In addition, some papers take up mainly a theoretical issue - for example, what constitutes Christian tragedy - rather than specific works. In all cases, however, the authors turn from their specific works and religious contents to more fundamental concerns that relate the two. In the essays on fiction, Lorraine Liscio looks at Bernanos's Diary of a Country Priest,a novel that exemplifies an artist's attempt to come to grips with the problem of how religion and art intersect. Lucinda H. MacKethan investigates the sense of the grotesque that Flannery O'Connor develops in her short stories. Gweneth Schwab reveals the ambiguity of the "pursuit of God" in Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. She examines how God pursues the novel's characters - as they pursue one another and God - by developing the theme of God as "This tremendous lover" from Francis Thompson's poem "The Hound of Heaven." The articles on drama begin with Clifford Chalmers Huffman's looking at the function of the religious dimension of Richard III. R. B. Gill considers in more general fashion whether or not there can be a Christian tragedy and what form its action will take if one is possible. Nicole Dufresne discusses Euripides' Bacchae and Arrabel's The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria in order to develop a structural parallel in both drama and culture. Ritual, the common link of the dramas, also links the aesthetic worlds of the dramas and the cultural worlds in which both dramas are situated and which they reflect. The two articles on poetry present a significant contrast. Jon Rosenblatt looks at the modernist poetry of Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, and Rainer Maria Rilke and notes the antinomy in their verse - the way the form of the discourse contradicts its meaning. The "truths" of such poetry must be about something other than this world, in senses that differ for each poet. On the other hand, Jerome Bump looks at an exemplar of a "religious" poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and his attempts to realize in successive versions of a poem a painterly likeness of a saint. In the final group of papers, "The Arts and Religion," Jean-Pierre Barricelli pairs Dante and Liszt as he examines how the Romantic composer attempted in his Dante Symphony to realize in music that emotions and religious fervor that Dante produced in verse as he moved from the Inferno to Paradiso. Mildred L. Culp develops a theology of ballet, concentrating on the ways a dancer receives and passes on God's grace through the gracefulness of dance.
Contributors: James M. Heath, Lorraine Liscio, Lucinda H. Mackethan, Gweneth Schwab, Clifford Chalmers Huffman, R. B. Gill, Nicole Dufresne, Jon Rosenblatt, Jerome Bump, Jean-Pierre Barricelli, and Mildred L. Culp.
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