Augustine and Literature

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The influence of Christianity on literature has been great throughout history, as has been the influence of the great Christian, Augustine. Augustine and Literature considers the influence of Augustine on the theory and practice of an academic discipline of which he himself was not a practitioner-literature, especially poetry and fiction. The essays in this volume explore the many influences of Augustine on literature, most obviously in terms of themes and symbols, but also more pervasively perhaps in proving that literature strives for meaning through and beyond the fictional or metaphorical surface. The authors discussed in these essays, from Dante and Milton to O'Connor and Faulkner, all demonstrate a common concern that literature must be attentive to the highest things and the deepest journeys of the soul. Together these essays offer a compelling argument that literature and Augustine do belong together in the common task of guiding the soul toward the truth it desires.

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Editorial Reviews

Todd Breyfogle
Augustine famously criticized the seductive charms of fiction, yet demonstrated his own mastery of story telling in the service of truth. In Augustine and Literature, some of our most nimble scholarly minds take up this paradox in a collection of essays which traces Augustinian themes in familiar places—the works of Dante, the Metaphysical Poets, Milton, and Flannery O'Connor—as well as among authors as diverse and unexpected as Shakespeare, Goethe, Faulkner, Rimbaud, and Ellison. Some essays explore direct Augustinian influences; others expose Augustinian affinities which cast these literary works in a sharper, provocative relief. Thoughtful and often surprising, the volume is rich with literary and theological insights which force us to think about the fundamental elements of the human condition as they bring Augustine into conversation with a host of sympathetic and contrary minds. Together the essays also initiate a broader conversation which goes beyond Augustine's thought and legacy to explore the place of literature in the intellectual life and the life well lived. Students of philosophy and theology, literature, and of the world of the imagination more generally will want to immerse themselves in this volume, and then return, refreshed and enlightened to Augustine and the other authors discussed.
John Peter Kenney
A wide-ranging collection of provocative and sometimes arresting essays, exploring Augustine's influence on Western poetry and fiction. The originality and range of this collection makes it indispensable for contemporary Augustinian studies.
Leslie Brisman
Augustine and Literature is a collection that restores the centrality of theology—and philosophic ideas generally—to the study of literary influence. It may be said of this whole, important collection and all the literary relationships it traces, what John Savoie, in it, shrewdly observes of Augustine and Milton: they "so knowingly engaged the issues and their opponents that they managed to transcend them as well." Savoie and others move us beyond the authority of Augustine to the heady interchanges best called dialogues," accepting much but challenging as well, testing and refining toward a clearer truth.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robert P. Kennedy is Chair of the Religious Studies Department at St. Francis Xavier University. Kim Paffenroth is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College. John Doody is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Villanova University.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Part 2 Literature to the Sixteenth Century Chapter 3 The Weight of Love: Augustinian Metaphors of Movement in Dante's Souls Chapter 4 "Se ponne pisne Wealsteal Wise Gepohte": An Augustinian Reading of the Early English Meditation "The Wanderer" Chapter 5 "There's a Divinity That Shapes Our Ends": An Augustinian Reading of Hamlet Part 6 Literature of the Seventeenth Century Chapter 7 St. Augustine and the Metaphysical Poets Chapter 8 Eloquence for the Age of Enlightenment: Fénelon's Saint Augustine Chapter 9 Justifying the Ways of God and Man: Theodicy in Augustine and Milton Part 10 Nineteenth Century Literature Chapter 11 The Senescence of the World: Augustine's Idea of History and Ibsen's Emperor and Galilean Chapter 12 "Descend That You May Ascend": Augustine, Dostoevsky, and the Confessions of Ivan Karamazov Chapter 13 "Eat Me, Drink Me, Love Me": Eucharist and the Erotic Body in Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market Chapter 14 "Words, Those Precious Cups of Meaning": Augustine's Influence on the Thought and Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. Chapter 15 A Season in Hell, or the Confessions of Arthur Rimbaud Chapter 16 Feminine Wisdom in Augustine and Goethe's Faust Part 17 Twentieth Century Literature Chapter 18 Faulkner's Augustinian Sense of Time Chapter 19 Augustinian Physicality and the Rhetoric of the Grotesque in the Art of Flannery O'Connor Chapter 20 Marking the Frontiers of World War II with "Stabilized Disorder": Rebecca West Reads St. Augustine Chapter 21 Confessional Ethics in Augustine and Ralph Ellison

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