Thought this was kind of interesting.
Yeah, lying. You got me. It’s an article on the Guardian Books Blog, of course it ain’t interesting (apols to Billy Mills, he’s alright). Journalistic, ploddy, doesn’t really know its stuff (eg “Flannery O’Connor, the only Catholic writer acclaimed by American critics in the 20th Century”. Gotcha game’s too easy with a survey article but I think Walker Percy would break that claim) Was, however, thinking about some of this shit myself, so let’s pretend.
I find it completely strange that the operation of grace – and I mean that in a pretty limited Christian Catholic sense – in a secular world is a major theme of maybe the top three midcentury British novelists. I dig Spark and Waugh a lot, Greene not so much; but it’s odd, and frankly unhealthy, that being taken seriously in mid-century Britain did seem bound up with adopting an extreme, rigorous and kitschy form of a fading religion.
Also feel that any religious-with-a-dash-of-doubt poet automatically got taken quite seriously; fair in some cases, overestimated worth in others. CH Sisson, RS Thomas, etc. This might have happened anyway, but the Eliotic climate must’ve made it fester.
Increasingly thinking that Empson was right when he was banging on about neo-Christians – which takes in ostensibly secular authors and critics iirc– running the show and kicking hard against them. Just coz yr themes are suffering, redemption, sacrifice, doubt, doesn’t automatically make you profound or serious. You just end up puzzling and silly if there’s no gift backing it up & the reader’s going ‘jeez don’t sweat it you aren’t really going to hell’.
Is this what The Movement was for? Maybe I’ve underestimated them a little.
This might not be news to anyone. Just me wondering why swathes of the lit of mid-century Britain are so not all that.