Spiritual blight : religion in the writings of Robertson Davies, the early period: 1940-1960

Balisch, Loretta Faith (1984) Spiritual blight : religion in the writings of Robertson Davies, the early period: 1940-1960. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Following the publication of the Deptford Trilogy in the 1970's Robertson Davies' concern over the nature of religion drew much critical attention, as did his use of various aspects of the psychology of C.G. Jung. There has not, however, been much critical attention given to the problem of religion in his earlier writings. It is the contention of this thesis that the problem of religion is no less significant to Davies' writings in the early period-from 1940 to 1960-than it has been acknowledged to be in his later ones. Moreover, this concern with religion in the early writings is not, as has been accepted, confined primarily to the social aspects of religion. -- From his earliest writings, Davies has shown his concern over the way in which man's concepts of religion have affected his outlook on his own human nature as well as how these concepts affected the ethical and moral considerations on which his society was based. Davies' concern about the problem of religion has thus been two-fold. First, he has been concerned with the detrimental effects of those forms of religion which appear to cut man off from an understanding of his own nature--from his physical, emotional and spiritual needs. These religions in many ways were seen to have diminished rather than augmented the quality of the human spirit. They had, in their emphasis on the societal and mundane reality, eroded man's concept of the transcendental to such an extent that for many religion has ceased to be a meaningful experience. Davies' second concern has been with the difficulty of reconciling any belief in the necessity of the transcendental with the prevailing rationalistic, empiricist outlook which decries the values of the spirit. -- In pursuing these two concerns, Davies' approach to religion has been oblique rather than straightforward. He has tended to view religious questions from a psychological rather than a traditionally theological point of view. His first concern thus led him to explore the theories of the depth psychologists such as Freud and Jung in his effort to discover the identity of the human being, not merely in physical and mundane terms but in terms of the needs of the human spirit. His second concern led him, through his acceptance of certain psychological theories of the nature of man, to a confrontation with accepted concepts of good and evil, and ultimately to the nature of religion itself. -- As his later writings embody this confrontation with the nature of religion, and ultimately, of God, the theme of religion in his writing is obvious. However, Davies' exploration of religion in these works rests on the prior determination of the value and necessity of the transcendental to the spiritual health of man, and this task has been completed in his writings prior to 1960.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5450
Item ID: 5450
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 246-260.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1984
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Davies, Robertson, 1913---Criticism and interpretation; Religion in literature

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