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From: "Nicholas Gevers" <potto@webmail.co.za>
Subject: (urth) Wolfe's textual Catholicism
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 07:29:04 +0200

In response to Ori Kowarsky's interesting and emphatic recent posting,
denying any necessary religious reading of Wolfe's work:
Certainly many different interpretations of Wolfe, religious or
secular, are sustainable; but some difficulties arise with an
insistently secular approach:
1) Wolfe's known Catholicism is ignored: the major flaw in Peter
Wright's Wolfe articles.
2) The logic I've cited previously is ignored: as a Catholic writer,
Wolfe feels free to be very catholic in his deployment of literary and
symbolic materials. As Catholic missionaries have done over centuries
- incorporating "foreign" rituals, beliefs, and philosophies into the
Christian mix as additional masks that God may wear - so Wolfe adopts
Darwinian, Hindu, and other components into his texts, as conveniences
of garb, serving the still Christian purposes of God and author. In
the process, the "foreign" elements serve Christianity, and so are
deprived of their original, non-Christian force. This is the essence
of parody, the literary technique at which Wolfe excels: the borrowing
of cultural forms in order to use them in capacities utterly opposed
to their customary ones.
3) The secular emphasis ignores the PROCESSES of religious belief: in
particular, Faith. Expanding a point made in my posting of a couple of
days ago: I recently remarked to Peter Cash that Wolfe's texts are, in
a lit-crit sense, analogues of Faith: that is, they show us a world of
apparent darkness, of countless clashing signs, but a subtle divine
pattern is there to be discerned if we are willing (and able); this is
how one comes to Faith. This is not easy: one can spend many years
teasing out Wolfe's meanings; and Wolfe, a deeply perverse writer,
presents us with apparent paradoxes, such as a creator God who is
willing to remake the world (Urth) by exterminating its people, whom
He made in the first place. But Catholicism has always been capable of
perversity, and of reflecting the cruelties of the Christian concept
(martyrs, the Inquisition, etc.)
Nicholas Gevers
 http://www.webmail.co.za the South-African free email service

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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