By Hilary Fraser
This research is a vital contribution to the highbrow historical past of Victorian England which examines the religio-aesthetic theories of a few significant writers of the time. Dr Fraser starts off with a dialogue of the cultured dimensions of Tractarian theology after which proceeds to the orthodox certainties of Hopkins' thought of inscape, Ruskin's and Arnold's moralistic feedback of literature and the visible arts, and Pater's and Wilde's religion in a faith of paintings. the writer identifies major cultural and historic stipulations which decided the interdependence of aesthetic and non secular sensibility within the interval. She argues that definite tensions within the considered Wordsworth and Coleridge - tensions among poetry and faith, uprising and response, individualism and authority - endured to take place themselves during the Victorian age, and as society turned more and more democratic, faith in flip grew to become more and more own and secular.
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Extra resources for Beauty and Belief: Aesthetics and Religion in Victorian Literature
The common essence of which consists in a similar union of the Universal and the Individual' . 96 Like the Cambridge Neo-Platonists, Coleridge thought of Christianity and the Church in terms appropriate to a work of art. His account of the nature of faith, conscience, and man's moral being as poetical, sacro sanct, beyond the bounds of human understanding, provided the crucial foundations upon which the Tractarians could build their theology. Keble and Newman saw literature and religion as parallel influences on life and were constantly linking the two, finding analogies between religious experience and the artistic and cultural imagination.
Poetry is the best vehicle of religious utterance because it reveals itself through a symbolical structure : it re-enacts, as it were, the processes of religious experience, of Revelation, and understanding through faith by analogy. Thus the theological tension between the idea of a transcendent Creator and God as omnipresent love can only be sustained by an emotional and imaginative medium such as poetry. For only poetry can retain the paradox and mirror the religious experience of the mystery of the divine nature in its symbolic mode of presentation.
This theory was attractive to one so repelled by the march of the rationalistic spirit as Keble. Butler's philosophy itself corroborated the theological speculations of the early Church Fathers, to whom Keble looked as the representatives of the true Catholic Church. The Fathers had achieved a perfect synthesis of their religion and their sacramental interpretation of nature and life, a synthesis which had slipped away from later generations of Christians, until it was finally destroyed by rationalism.
Beauty and Belief: Aesthetics and Religion in Victorian Literature by Hilary Fraser