Beauty and Belief: Aesthetics and Religion in Victorian by Hilary Fraser

By Hilary Fraser

This examine is a crucial contribution to the highbrow background of Victorian England which examines the religio-aesthetic theories of a few important writers of the time. Dr Fraser starts with a dialogue of the cultured dimensions of Tractarian theology after which proceeds to the orthodox certainties of Hopkins' concept of inscape, Ruskin's and Arnold's moralistic feedback of literature and the visible arts, and Pater's and Wilde's religion in a faith of paintings. the writer identifies major cultural and ancient stipulations which made up our minds the interdependence of aesthetic and non secular sensibility within the interval. She argues that sure tensions within the considered Wordsworth and Coleridge - tensions among poetry and faith, uprising and response, individualism and authority - endured to take place themselves through the Victorian age, and as society turned more and more democratic, faith in flip grew to become more and more own and secular.

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Any effective theological writing, then, must consist of more than a series of arguments : it must inspire the same imaginative response as a work of art, and ultimately as God Himself. As a theologian, Newman's first concern was to produce works of literature, since his success as an apologist was, according to his own theory, dependent upon his ability to evoke an imaginative response. In the best of his works his literary style unites his imagination and his intellect, and invests the tightest theological definitions with the qualities of a work of art.

The existence of a sacramental system is dependent upon the Incarnation of Christ. The Incarnation was 'the means as well as the token, so the entire sacrament, of the redemption of our nature',154 and as such it is a constantly recurring theme in Keble's sermons and poetry : Christ's life and His miracles are promises of the great miracles to come, namely the Sacraments. 156 He constantly reminds his congregation that Christ has been present ever since the Incarnation, reviving the belief that Christ 'is near at hand.

156 The earth, having once been the scene of Christ's birth and death, is transformed and transcendentalised. 157 Keble believed, like Wordsworth, that the world must be translated in terms of the divine, not dissected by the reason. 158 Keble expands this idea and offers a lyrical interpretation of the origin and nature of the Holy Sacraments. On the hypothesis, derived from Wordsworth and reworked in the Oxford Lectures on Poetry, that poetry is the expression of an overflowing mind, Keble concludes that each person has his own poetry, a personal set of associations appropriate to his own individual make-up.

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