Poetry and the Catholic Imagination
What are some hallmarks of Catholic vision that might allow readers to identify a Catholic imagination at work when they encounter one? Is it possible to identify lines of continuity among writers whose work is original and entirely unique to that person? And, finally, in what way can seeing—and representing—the world Catholicly bear the stamp of truth for non-Catholics as well as Catholics? This chapter deals with sacramental qualities and themes found among poets and novelists whose works constitute a kind of canon of the Catholic literary imagination. From the nineteenth-century English Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins to the mid-twentieth-century French novelist Georges Bernanos and American writer Flannery O'Connor, the chapter examines a spiritual aesthetic best conveyed perhaps in the words of a character dying young in Bernanos's celebrated novel The Diary of a Country Priest. The chapter is particularly attuned to the subtle interplay of language and spirit.
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