Poetry and the Religious Imagination : The Power of the Word book cover
1st Edition

Poetry and the Religious Imagination
The Power of the Word

ISBN 9781138548800
Published February 12, 2018 by Routledge
280 Pages

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Book Description

What is the role of spiritual experience in poetry? What are the marks of a religious imagination? How close can the secular and the religious be brought together? How do poetic imagination and religious beliefs interact? Exploring such questions through the concept of the religious imagination, this book integrates interdisciplinary research in the area of poetry on the one hand, and theology, philosophy and Christian spirituality on the other. Established theologians, philosophers, literary critics and creative writers explain, by way of contemporary and historical examples, the primary role of the religious imagination in the writing as well as in the reading of poetry.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction, Francesca Bugliani Knox. Part I Theology and Literature in Context: Theology and literature in the English-speaking world, Michael Kirwan; Why theologians are interested in literature: theological-literary hermeneutics in the works of Guardini, Balthasar, Tillich and Kuschel, Georg Langenhorst. Part II The Religious Imagination: from Thomas Aquinas to Wallace Stevens: Identifying a religious imagination, Michael Paul Gallagher SJ; Religious imagination and poetic audacity in Thomas Aquinas, Olivier-Thomas Venard OP; Dante and the indispensability of the image, John Took; Law and divine mercy in Shakespeare’s religious imagination: Measure for Measure and The Merchant of Venice, Paul S. Fiddes; Wallace Stevens on God, imagination and reality, John McDade. Part III Inspiration: Poetry and Poetry Reading: Poetry as scripture, poetry as inspiration, Jay Parini; The poet as ‘worldmaker’: T.S. Eliot and the religious imagination, Dominic Griffiths; Non tantum lecturi sed facturi: reading poetry as spiritual transformation, Antonio Spadaro SJ; Reading as active contemplation, Jennifer Reek. Part IV Poets and Spiritual Experience: Mystical Gestures: ‘There is a verge of the mind’: imagination and mystical gesture in Rilke’s later poems, Mark S. Burrows; ‘The pulse in the wound’: embodiment and grace in Denise Levertov’s religious poetry, Sarah Law. Part V Poetry, Religious Imagination and Religious Belief: Images of the Virgin in the late 16th century: the Catholic devotional poetry of Henry Constable, Lilla Grindlay. Index.

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Francesca Bugliani Knox graduated in 1976 from Pisa University (Dott. Lett.) and was senior lecturer in the English Department of the Università IULM, Milan, from 1986 to 2002. In 2009 she was awarded a PhD by Heythrop College, University of London. She is now Research Associate at Heythrop College and Teaching Fellow at UCL. Her publications include translations into Italian as well as several books and articles on various aspects of English and Italian literature from the Renaissance to the present. Since early on her research interest has focused on the relationship between literature and Christian spirituality. Together with Luca Panieri she edited Poesia e comunicazione (Lint 2001). Her recent book, The Eye of the Eagle: John Donne and the Legacy of Ignatius Loyola (Peter Lang 2011) was reviewed favourably in the TLS, Essays in Criticism, Renaissance Quarterly, Church History and Religious Culture and The Heythrop Journal. At present she is editing a collection of essays on Mgr Ronald Knox for PIMS and writing John Donne’s Itinerary for Open Book Publishers Cambridge. David Lonsdale taught courses in Christian Spirituality and Pastoral Theology at postgraduate level at Heythrop College, University of London for more than 25 years before retiring in 2012. He was also joint editor of The Way, and The Way Supplement, international journals of Christian spirituality from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. His published books, Eyes to See, Ears to Hear: An Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (1990, revised edition 2000) and Dance to the Music of the Spirit (1992) have been much used in formation and education and translated into several languages. The places where literature, theology, spirituality and life meet have long been among his research and teaching interests and he has recently published several articles in this area.


’A fine collection of essays by young and established scholars, which asks some crucial questions: What is the relationship between theology and poetry? Faith and imagination? Devotion and art? It will help to open up a long-neglected, but absolutely vital field of intellectual investigation. Greatly to be welcomed.’ Angela Leighton, Trinity College, Cambridge ’For the authors in this rich volume, poetry is not merely an artful form of discourse; it exemplifies a way of thinking. Poetic imagination underlies and overlaps with the mind’s quest for the metaphysical and the religious. In a mixture of theoretical considerations and case studies, these essays offer a valuable summary of the state of the question of the relation of theology and literature, and they provide enticing and often delightful insights into different styles of poetic imagination as it opens on to the transcendent.’ Richard Viladesau, Fordham University, USA ’This collection of essays has an impressive range, with contributions on Aquinas and Dante from one historical period, on Constable and Shakespeare from another, and on Eliot, Levertov, Rilke and Wallace Stevens from nearer our own times. The result might have been indigestible but in fact the work is full of rich insights, helped not least by the editors’ decision to arrange the material by theme rather than chronologically, and also by commissioning two splendid introductory essays that provide the broader context for such discussions in twentieth century literary theory and theology.’ David Brown, ITIA (the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts), University of St Andrews, UK