Date

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Adviser

Singh, Amardeep

Other advisers/committee members

Edwards, Suzanne M.; Dolan, Elizabeth; Raposa, Michael

Abstract

Religion plays an essential role in the fiction produced in England after the Second World War: Catholic writers like Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Muriel Spark have come to define the midcentury novel, while spirituality infuses the work of prolific writers like Rebecca West and Iris Murdoch. Placing the moral philosophy and fiction of these authors together, “The True God Slays” demonstrates that these religious writers, whom one might be tempted to categorize as marginal figures because of religion’s decline in post-1945 England, are centrally important both to one’s understanding of religion’s contested place in the modern nation-state and to an enriched appreciation for how literature works in the late modernist period. Focusing on literature produced during the years between Hitler’s rise and Eichmann’s trial (1933-1961), I argue that religion supports these writers ethical response to the horrors of the Second World War and the emergence of global capitalism but also structures their transfiguration of high modernism’s aesthetics. In “The True God Slays,” I identify the formal strategies these authors implement in order to effect ethical awareness and to engender right action, while also exploring these novelists’ relevance to contemporary issues surrounding economic globalization, religious tolerance, and social change.

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