MANSIONS OF THE SPIRIT by George- Ed. Panichas


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An excellent collection of essays on the relationship between religion and art, a subject which curiously attracts literary critics in this ""death of God"" era. Goethe viewed it quite differently: ""Faith and want of faith are not the organs with which a work of art is to be apprehended."" But our age takes its cue from Eliot, who so subtly established the Christian ideas of immanence and transcendence as peculiarly suited to modern aestheticism. The contributors here are all more or less Eliotic disciples, and though some deal with such ""strange gods"" as Genet and Lawrence, the intent in each essay is to unearth the ""mansions of the spirit"" which may be found in even the darkest or most perverse creations. Thomas Merton is very good on the buried baptismal imagery in Faulkner's The Wild Palms; that splendid Shakespearean scholar, G. Wilson Knight, presents a surprisingly persuasive defense of Masefield's ""spiritualism,"" which many (including this reviewer) have passed off as sugar-and-water nonsense; Martin Jarrett-Kerr rescues the ""tragic hero"" from the fashionable neo-positivism of Robbe-Grillet; and Georges Florovsky is altogether brilliant on the quest-motif in the great Russian writers. Huxley, Salinger, and Flannery O'Connor are also discussed. Bravos all round.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1967
Publisher: Hawthorn