Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fiction and Faith

In the current issue of Bookforum, Benjamin Anastas asks "how might the novelist reconcile fiction and faith" in God, Living is Enormous. Anastas starts with the notion that, much like God created the world and its inhabitants, the novel "creates its own firmament between two covers, divides light from darkness, fills the waters with odd life-forms, and chokes the earth with abundance." Before the novel can undertake its work, it must take care of the competition: "[God] must be killed, captured, or paid off handsomely and sent into exile. He must be dealt with." Often, this is accomplished via "enshrinement of the individual."

At various points in his analysis, Anastas points to Susan Sontag's journals (published as Reborn), Puritan minister Jonathan Edwards's sermons, and contemporary fiction by Marilynne Robinson and Chris Adrian. Overall, it's an interesting article about the intersection of faith and fiction (though I wish it were longer).

1 comment:

Benjamin Judge said...

Hmmm. Couldn't you pretty much adapt that argument to anything though?

You could, for a rather flippant example, say that a sandwich creates its own firmament between two slices of bread, divides light from darkness, fills the filling with delicious life forms, and chokes the stomach with abundance.

Generally speaking the idea of faith in the modern novel has faded away as the idea of faith has become less relevant to the majority of novelists. Or rather there was a shift from accepting faith to a questioning of it and now, increasingly, a dismissal of it.

I think rather than God having to "be dealt with" many writers now feel the concept of God can be safely ignored. After all, if writers no longer feel God is a part of their audience then why should God be a part of their narrative.