By Hilary Fraser
This learn is a vital contribution to the highbrow background of Victorian England which examines the religio-aesthetic theories of a few important writers of the time. Dr Fraser starts 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 old stipulations which decided the interdependence of aesthetic and spiritual 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 - persisted to show up themselves through the Victorian age, and as society grew to become more and more democratic, faith in flip turned more and more own and secular.
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Extra info for Beauty and Belief: Aesthetics and Religion in Victorian Literature
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. We have seen how Keble feared that men would find in poetry an alternative to Christianity. While an Anglican, Newman characterised poetry as a kind of religious experience in itself: the taste for poetry of a religious kind has in modem times in a certain sense taken the place of the deep contemplative spirit of the early Church .
And then appeals to God : Help us, each hour, with steadier eye To search the deepening mystery The wonders of Thy sea and sky . 149 Keble was not the first nineteenth-century thinker to respond to the allusive, metaphorical and symbolic exegetical methods of the early Church. Coleridge had in The Statesman's Manual, as we have seen, discussed the Scriptures as imaginative works, and in later life he vigorously promoted the reading of the Bible as a work of literature. 15 0 It is in this tradition that Keble, in Tract Eighty-Nine, discusses the Fathers' allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament and their detection of a figurative Christian meaning throughout.
76 Hence style is essentially the image of an author's mind : inner thought and outward expression exist in an inevitably binding relationship : ' Thought and speech are inseparable from each other. 78 Literature was the formal representation of an idea created in the mind, the delineation of 'that perfection which the imagination suggests, and to which as a limit the present system of Divine Providence actually tends'. 79 Since the merit of literature for Newman, as for Keble, depends upon the innate moral balance of the poet's mind, it gains in beauty as the poet approximates to moral perfection : Poetry .