Publisher: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Number of pages: 372
Weight: 540 g
Dimensions: 227 x 153 x 26 mm
With the 17 essays collected in this sizable volume, New (emer., Univ. of Florida) and Reedy (Fordham Univ.) restate the importance of theology in later 18th-century culture. As the introduction argues, the literature of the time requires being read and understood in terms of its theology, especially as writers defended Christianity and perhaps more interestingly literature itself by resorting to technical points of doctrine and belief. The essays address the period in its breadth and variety, with Samuel Johnson at the center, and various treatments of figures and subjects as diverse as Richardson, Fielding, Methodism, the Bluestockings, Goldsmith, Sterne, Boswell, Burke, Paine, and Wollstonecraft. Overall, the scholarship is meticulous, presenting the writers and their particular engagements with theology in some detail. It is especially useful to be reminded that just as Johnson or Fielding engaged with theology in defense of more traditional morality, so did figures such as Paine or Wollstonecraft find themselves animated by theological controversy. As a result, the collection restores a historical sense of just how great the influence of theological discourse was on writers of every stamp during the late 18th century. Summing Up: Recommended. * CHOICE *
The year 2012 was a fruitful one for scholarship on the relationship between religion and literature. The essays collected in Theology and Literature in the Age of Johnson: Resisting Secularism, edited by Melvyn New and Gerard Reedy, take their impetus from New's entry on `Anglicanism' in Samuel Johnson in Context, the main points of which-the dynamics of latitudinarianism, and eighteenth-century secularization and resistance to it-he rehearses in the present volume's introduction, before turning to trace the fall and rise of secularist scholarship from its apogee in the 1960s to a recent renewal of interest in the religious contexts of eighteenth-century literature. * The Year's Work In English Studies *
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