Wells, Chesterton, and A Theology of Semidetached Reading

Knight, Mark (2021) Wells, Chesterton, and A Theology of Semidetached Reading. Renascence, 73 (1). pp. 29-42.

[thumbnail of Wells, Chesterton and A Theology of SemiDetached Reading AM version]
Text (Wells, Chesterton and A Theology of SemiDetached Reading AM version)
Wells_Chesterton_and_A_Theology_of_SemiDetached_Reading_AM_version.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (271kB)


This article engages with the work of John Plotz on our experience of being caught between two worlds as we read—a world of fiction that partially absorbs us, and the actual world, to which we remain attached. Noting the lack of attention Plotz pays to religion as he writes about semi-detachment, I respond by developing a theology of semidetached reading. To think through the contribution that theology offers, I turn to two works of fiction: H. G. Wells’s “The Plattner Story” (1896) and G. K. Chesterton’s The Man who was Thursday: A Nightmare (1908). In doing so, I recognize the very different ways in which Wells and Chesterton tease out the strange mix of secular and religious experience that is so important for those who want to understand religion in the modern world. As I go on to argue, paying attention to theology allows to register particular narratives in which people traverse these worlds and seek to hold different threads of meaning together. A theology of semidetached reading can also shed light on the ways in which different worlds are configured, as well as helping us to navigate points of conflict as we move between them.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
15 Dec 2020 15:35
Last Modified:
28 Sep 2023 00:29