Marilynne Robinson on What Literature Owes the Bible

Thanks to Jason Goroncy for alerting me to this wonderful article by Marilynne Robinson, the author of Gilead.

Literatures are self-referential by nature, and even when references to Scripture in contemporary fiction and poetry are no more than ornamental or rhetorical — indeed, even when they are unintentional — they are still a natural consequence of the persistence of a powerful literary tradition. Biblical allusions can suggest a degree of seriousness or significance their context in a modern fiction does not always support. This is no cause for alarm. Every fiction is a leap in the dark, and a failed grasp at seriousness is to be respected for what it attempts. In any case, these references demonstrate that in the culture there is a well of special meaning to be drawn upon that can make an obscure death a martyrdom and a gesture of forgiveness an act of grace. Whatever the state of belief of a writer or reader, such resonances have meaning that is more than ornamental, since they acknowledge complexity of experience of a kind that is the substance of fiction.

Read the whole piece here.

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2 Responses to Marilynne Robinson on What Literature Owes the Bible

  1. I like Robinson. She also schooled Richard Dawkins in an article several years back.

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