Reading with the Trinity:Theology and Literary Form in George MacDonald

Vernon, Amanda (2021) Reading with the Trinity:Theology and Literary Form in George MacDonald. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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George MacDonald (1824-1905) has often been recognized as a pioneering fantasy writer, an heir of the Romantic tradition and, to a lesser extent, a theologian. Although MacDonald was a prolific writer and international lecturer his role as a literary scholar has been largely overlooked by critics. This thesis seeks to to redress this gap by examining MacDonald’s literary scholarship in light of his theology, making the claim that his weaving together of literature and theology makes him an important figure for Victorian literary culture. For MacDonald, literature is not distinct from, nor an addition to, religious belief. It is, rather, a medium by which to articulate and explore theology. This thesis demonstrates how MacDonald’s readings of the literary forms of writers such as Dante, Tennyson, and Shakespeare enact a mode of theological thought and expression. Furthermore, it argues that the Trinity is a foundational concept in MacDonald’s theological and literary thought––one that gives him ways of thinking about key ideas concerning reading literary form (ideas such as relationality, movement, and participation). In addition to demonstrating the centrality of the Trinity in MacDonald’s thinking, this thesis draws out his idea that different literary forms such as narrative, poetry, and drama offer unique ways of engaging with, and revealing elements of, a spiritual reality that is characterised by movement. By considering the ways in which the concept of a dynamic Trinitarian communion shapes MacDonald’s views on form, this thesis contributes to a broader set of debates in Victorian studies concerning literaryreligious forms. As it does so, it highlights the generative potential of theological concepts, and underscores the importance of attending to theology in order to identify key aspects of Victorian literary-critical method.

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Thesis (PhD)
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26 Oct 2021 08:35
Last Modified:
19 Sep 2023 03:11