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21. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 2
Mark Zunac ‘There was something gentlemanly about your painting’: Art and Beauty’s Truth in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited
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While criticism of Evelyn’s Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited has generally focused on the novel’s Catholic themes, it has often overlooked the author’s exploration of certain correlative artistic values that that are both sustained by the Christian vision and integral to the development of a humane and soul-enriching culture. That culture for Waugh was necessarily grown out of an identifiable past and evoked by artistic representations of divine grace and human potential. This essay argues that Charles Ryder’s eventual Catholic conversion remains indispensable to the novel’s fulfillment of its author’s vision. This critical denouement, however, also serves to affirm the grace that is revealed throughout by the protagonist’s instinctive veneration for traditions besieged by a soulless and secular modernism. In this way, worldly beauty is intricately entwined with a life of virtue and can thus be seen as adjacent to those values hitherto singularly ascribed by critics of Brideshead to the Catholic mission.
22. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 2
Mary A. Melfi The Solidity of the Self: Turning and Returning in A Passage to India
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In A Passage to India, E.M. Forster examines the duality of three main characters, Mrs. Moore, Aziz, and Fielding and thereby demonstrates their relative stability in the primordial chaos of India. Unlike Adela who falls apart after her experience in the cave, these characters draw on the power of the imagination in a grappling struggle to remain morally centered when facing the darkness within. Forster suggests that turning to the East (where the Marabar caves represent darkness and destabilization) contrasts with returning to the West (where imaginative form represents order and light). In Mrs. Moore, Aziz, and Fielding, Forster examines the manner in which one might embrace a centered life committed to empathy for others by way of facing one’s own otherness. As these characters immerse themselves in India’s primordial formlessness and acknowledge their shadows, they embrace imaginative form rather than fall apart, and in doing so they serve as models of mythmakers and relative stability.
23. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 2
David N. Beauregard Love and Friendship in The Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare, Aristotle and Aquinas
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The basic argument of the essay is that in The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare represents Aristotelian-Thomistic notions of love and friendship. In the attraction of Bassanio for Portia we have the three-fold analysis of love as desire for the useful, the pleasurable and the virtuous. In the male friendship between Antonio and Bassanio we see the liberal man’s virtuous desire to give and share his wealth with his friends. Both relationships are concerned with giving and taking, a reflection of the Aristotelian-Thomistic distinction between love as desire and love as friendship. A final note is the play’s conclusion in the Aristotelian goods of happiness, gratuitous good fortune with the safe arrival of Antonio’s ships, union in friendship and marriage with Portia and Bassanio, Nerissa and Gaziano, and the wonder and delight that is to follow with Portia’s answer to all remaining questions.
24. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 2
Notes on Contributors
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25. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 1
Maurizio Ascari Beyond Realism: Ian McEwan’s Atonement as a Postmodernist Quest for Meaning
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A complex and controversial novel, Atonement is at the core of a lively critical debate, opposing those who focus on the impossibility of Briony’s atonement – also in relation to the author’s atheist views – to those who conversely explore the redemptive quality of her “postlapsarian” painful self-fashioning. Far from concerning simply the destiny of a literary character, this debate has to do with the impact Postmodernist relativism has on both the conception of the human subject and the discourses of the past, from memory to history and fiction. Discarding any potentially nihilistic interpretations of Atonement as disempowering, this article delves into Ian McEwan’s multi-layered text in order to comprehend its ambivalences, its subtle investigation of the human condition, and its status as a postmemory novel reconnecting us to the events of World War Two.
26. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 1
Michael Boler Screwtape’s Remedy for Love: C. S. Lewis and Ovid
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In the Ars Amatoria Ovid claims to make his audience experts in love; in the Remedia Amoris he teaches them how to fall out of love. These two poems are masterpieces of satirical comedy. At first glance Ovidian satire seems worlds apart from The Screwtape Letters of C.S. Lewis. While written for entirely different aims and differing in many obvious aspects, both works describe the surest means by which to suffocate love. For Ovid, it is romantic love that must be extinguished; for Screwtape, it is the love of God. While it might seem that the irony of The Screwtape Letters is distinctively modern, Lewis’s special form of irony finds its ancient precedent and model in the master of mock-didacticism, Ovid. Not only can the influence of Ovid’s Remedia Amoris be seen in the broad themes contained in The Screwtape Letters, but many of Screwtape’s specific avenues of attack were recommended by Ovid centuries ago.
27. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 1
W. Brett Wiley George Saunders’s 400-Pound CEO: Goodness or Ideology
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George Saunders, in “The 400-Pound CEO,” displays a theme that appears in many of his stories and that he has talked about in numerous interviews. Jeffrey, the protagonist and narrator of the story, confronts the dissonance that exists between enacting goodness and theological or ideological belief. The story ultimately suggests a Buddhist approach, what Saunders explains as a practical means of “react[ing] accordingly” to life as “that-which-is.”
28. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 1
Josh Pittman The Most Important Virtue?: The Surprising Recurrence of Temperance in the Pearl Manuscript
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The narrator of the Middle English Cleanness states that God punishes sexual sin more harshly than any other sin. This essay argues that the rest of the BL Cotton Nero A.x manuscript continues to develop the virtue of temperance, which governs sexual behavior, as a central theme. Pearl uses temperance to bring home the dreamer’s sin and God’s justice, while Patience and SGGK employ the interrelation between temperance and fortitude in ways that make temperance foundational. Interrogating the interdependence of the virtues allows the poet to challenge the traditional hierarchy of virtues, in which temperance is the lowest, thus making the case that temperance is paradoxically foundational to other virtues, like justice and fortitude. In this way, the poems not only make a case for the value of temperance, but they also expose ambiguities in orthodox accounts of the virtues.
29. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 1
Notes on Contributors
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30. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 4
Kevin J. Gardner The Church Elegy: Recuperating Anglican Memory in Post-war English Poetry
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Following the pattern set by Philip Larkin and John Betjeman, numerous post-war English poets responded to the decline of the Church of England as a physical and cultural fabric by composing elegies on the Church. Steeping their poems in the collective memory of Anglicanism, they commemorate church buildings and churchyards as sites of collective memory, endow the history and landscape of Britain with Christian mythology, and lament the social ramifications of a post-Christian culture. This essay demonstrates that a poetic lament for the loss of Anglican hegemony is a common motif in post-war English poetry and defines genre of “church elegy.” What is mourned is not the loss of Christianity itself but the end of a common cultural identity once sustained by the Church of England. In response, poets fretted by the disorder and fragmentation of modern British society are engaged in an effort to resuscitate Anglican cultural memory.
31. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 4
Brian Barbour “His Trees Stood Rising Above Him”: Philosophical Thomism in Flannery O’Connor
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Although Thomism, “hillbilly” or otherwise, is central to Flannery O’Connor’s thought and art, it has received precious little attention from those who comment on her work. Still, if one knows how to look, it is pervasive, ordering and animating her fiction and helping to ground her comic vision. But it is so thoroughly, artistically, integrated into her work that most readers seem to pass over it leaving it unnoticed and unremarked. Yet it is present in at least six ways and often they are so intertwined as to reinforce one another: as a metaphysics of being (The Violent Bear It Away, “A View of the Woods” and passim); as an epistemology of moderate realism (“Good Country People”); as a historical narrative showing the loss of the first two (passim in her general regard for the Cartesian Protagonist); as an anthropology of the human person as a composite of body and soul (“The Life You Save May Be Your Own”); as a natural law morality (“A Stroke of Good Fortune,” “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”); and as an objective aesthetics (“A Temple of the Holy Ghost,” “The Enduring Chill”). Understanding the basics of her philosophical Thomism enables the reader to grasp a good deal of what actually characterizes her fiction and yet is routinely missed.
32. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 4
Yanbin Kang Dickinson’s Air/Wind: “Lonesome Glee” and Poetics of Emptiness
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Combining reception theorists’s emphasis upon the function of readers for meaning production with Bakhtin’s model of exotopic intercultural relation, this essay argues that for Chinese readers, Dickinson works as part of a long meditative tradition. The discussion positions the air and wind in the center of her image cluster, examining the formation of her poetics of emptiness that is marked by a negative tendency. In this vein, Dickinson’s “lonesome Glee,” which is often associated with deprivation, pain and lack, is read as a manifestation of wandering at ease, a spiritual ideal that resonates with Daoism and Chan Buddhism. Her effort to reconfigure heaven, as evidenced in a subset of poems including “Peace is a fiction of our Faith -” (Fr971), illuminates how she uses apophatic strategies to negotiate the Christian dogmas, gradually achieving a knowledge and articulation that intriguingly echo Chinese philosophies.
33. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 4
Zhiyong Mo Chinese Calligraphy and Painting
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34. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 4
Notes on Contributors
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35. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 3
Adam Glover Eucharist and the Poetics of Failure
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This article examines “Poem of the Eucharistic Bread” (1946) by the underappreciated twentieth-century Argentine Catholic poet Francisco Luis Bernárdez (1900-1978). It contends that “Poem of the Eucharistic Bread” is not only a poem about the Eucharist, but also a kind of allegory of the Eucharist, one whose poetic diction frames the process of poiesis as significantly analogous to the sacramental character of the Eucharist itself. In the process, the article also suggests that Bernárdez’s rare combination of poetic talent and theological sensitivity ought to win him a wider readership among scholars interested in the relationship between literature and theology.
36. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 3
Martin Brick Death, Resurrection, and Meaning in Finnegans Wake: A Process Theology Approach
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This essay uses process theology, and branch of theology that emphasizes a teleological perspective regarding sin and suffering, to examine the treatment of death and the uncanny in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. The attitude of the mourners of Tim Finnegan from the first chapter of the novel is compared to the attitude of ALP in her closing monologue, with each view corresponding to a different variety of eschatology, futurized (focused on the afterlife) and realized (how knowledge of the end influences lived existence). ALP’s hopeful demeanor illustrates a balance of these two types, and despite Joyce’s denunciation of organized religion, promotes a deeper spiritual existence and self-reflection.
37. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 3
Peter Whiteford Hopkins’s Remarks on his ‘Terrible Posthumous Sonnets’
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In 1885, Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote two letters to Robert Bridges in which he referred briefly to several sonnets that he had recently written, and that he intended to send. He did not name the poems, and his subsequent failure to send them left the sonnets permanently unidentified and the remarks about them inevitably cryptic. Nevertheless, subsequent critics have readily and almost unanimously agreed that the remarks refer to some of the poems collectively known as the terrible sonnets; in a curiously circular argument, they have interpreted the remarks in the light of their reading of the sonnets and have, at the same time, used the remarks to shed light on the poems. Critical attention has focused particularly, and almost exclusively, on two remarks: in the first letter, the observation that one sonnet was “written in blood,” and in the second, the assertion that four of the sonnets came “like inspirations unbidden and against my will”. In this article, I argue that these remarks have been misinterpreted — in part, because of assumptions made about the putative group of terrible sonnets and in part through a failure to properly contextualize those letters.
38. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 3
Alan Blackstock Chesterton, Eliot, and Modernist Heresy
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G. K. Chesterton and T. S. Eliot both employed the concepts of orthodoxy and heresy to evaluate the work and influence of some of the most prominent writers of their day. One of Chesterton’s best-known books is titled Orthodoxy, (1908) and one of his earliest works of literary criticism was a collection of articles first written for the Daily News and later published under the title Heretics (1905). T.S. Eliot delivered a series of lectures at the University of Virginia in 1933 that were later collected and published as After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy. In these lectures, Eliot, like Chesterton in his newspaper columns, illustrates the “limiting and crippling effect of a separation from tradition and orthodoxy” on writers whom he otherwise admires. Both authors invoke the concepts of orthodoxy to identify these threatened traditions and of heresy and heretic to identify the forces and figures that constitute the principal threats.
39. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 3
Notes on Contributors
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40. Renascence: Volume > 70 > Issue: 2
John Curran, Jr. A Note From the Editor
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