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Modernist Women Writers and Spirituality: A Piercing Darkness

Modernist Women Writers and Spirituality: A Piercing Darkness

Paperback(1st ed. 2016)

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Concentrating on female modernists specifically, this volume examines spiritual issues and their connections to gender during the modernist period. Scholarly inquiry surrounding women writers and their relation to what Wassily Kandinsky famously hoped would be an ‘Epoch of the Great Spiritual’ has generated myriad contexts for closer analysis including: feminist theology, literary and religious history, psychoanalysis, queer and trauma theory. This book considers canonical authors such as Virginia Woolf while also attending to critically overlooked or poorly understood figures such as H.D., Mary Butts, Rose Macaulay, Evelyn Underhill, Christopher St. John and Dion Fortune. With wide-ranging topics such as the formally innovative poetry of Stevie Smith and Hope Mirrlees to Evelyn Underhill’s mystical treatises and correspondence, this collection of essays aims to grant voices to the mostly forgotten female voices of the modernist period, showing how spirituality played a vital role in their lives and writing.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781349708499
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK
Publication date: 10/17/2020
Edition description: 1st ed. 2016
Pages: 281
Product dimensions: 5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x (d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Anderson is Impact Research Fellow at the University of Stirling. She is the author of H.D. and Modernist Religious Imagination and has published in Literature and Theology, Women: A Cultural Review and Christianity and Literature.

Andrew Radford is a Lecturer in Anglo-American Literature in the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow, UK. He has published extensively on modernist fiction and is the co-editor of Franco-British Cultural Exchanges: Channel Packets.

Heather Walton is Professor of Theology and Creative Practice and Co-Director of the Centre for Literature, Theology and the Arts at the University of Glasgow, UK. Her books include: Literature, Theology and Feminism, Imagining Theology: Women Writing and God and Not Eden: Spiritual Life Writing for this World. She is Executive Editor of the journal Literature and Theology. 

Table of Contents





Introduction: The Intricate Persistence of Strange Gods

Elizabeth Anderson, Andrew Radford and Heather Walton


Chapter 1: Radical Unorthodoxy: Religious and Literary Modernisms in H.D. and Mary Butts

Suzanne Hobson        


Chapter 2: Directing Modernist Spirituality: Evelyn Underhill, the Subliminal Consciousness and Spiritual Direction

Jamie Callison


Chapter 3: Stevie Smith’s serious play: a modernist reframing of Christian orthodoxy       

Gillian Boughton


Chapter 4: Faith in Ruins: Fragments and Pattern in the Late Works of Rose Macaulay

Heather Walton


Chapter 5: Jane Harrison’s Ritual Scholarship

Mimi Winick  


Chapter 6: Antiquarian Magic: Jane Harrison’s Ritual Theory and Hope Mirrlees’s Paris

Nina Enemark


Chapter 7: Childish Things: Spirituality, Materiality and Creativity in Mary Butts’s The Crystal Cabinet

Elizabeth Anderson


Chapter 8: Spectral Poetics in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves

Sheela Banerjee


Chapter 9: The Queer Movements of Ecstasy and Asceticism in Hungerheart: The Story of a Soul and Madeleine: One of Love’s Jansenists

Ellen Ricketts 


Chapter 10: Dora Marsden and the “WORLD-INCLUSIVE I”: Egoism, Mysticism and Radical Feminism

Steven Quincey-Jones


Chapter 11: What lies below the horizon of life: the occult fiction of Dion Fortune

Andrew Radford       


Chapter 12: What Words Conceal: H.D.’s occult word-alchemy in the 1950s

Matte Robinson         


Afterword: Modernist Women Writers and Spirituality

Lara Vetter



Notes on Contributors


What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A collection of breathtaking range and variety, this book includes provocative new readings among its original chapters which pore over, interrogate, and establish the fact that modernist women writers were genuinely invested in spiritual quests. Founded on an emerging, impressive body of new research (often archival), this book makes a fresh, original, and substantial contribution to the study of the topos of spirituality as understood and practiced by modernist women writers. I strongly recommend it.” (Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos, Professor of English, University of New Brunswick, Canada)

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