Saturday, August 10, 2019

Grace in the Garden

From The Imaginative Conservative:
Almost from the beginning of when human beings began to ponder their situation in the order of things, they have somehow seen themselves as living in a world which is incomplete: a world that is separate, split, in some way ‘torn apart’ from its source (whatever that may be, or have been); a cosmos, latterly a universe, ‘under’ or ‘suffering’ the consequences of this diremption. 
From certainly the time of the Ancient Greeks (especially Plato and Aristotle—although they are relatively late in their own tradition), the teachings and writings of the Prophets of Israel, some of which become the Old Testament, Rome, the so-called ‘Dark Ages’ and their (equally so-called) Enlightenment, the Reformation of the Early Modern Period and on into the Age of ‘Reason,’ the era of Modernity, the late period of which (some call it Postmodernity) we ourselves live in, artists (in the West and Middle East—India, China and the Far East have different traditions outside the scope of this argument) in all expressive forms have to a greater or lesser extent attempted to address the nature and discover or explain the meaning of this diremption, its consequences for humanity, and to sometimes suggest ways that it may, or may not, be overcome, ‘repaired,’ or even redeemed. 
The focus of this essay is the British Literary Pastoral tradition, or, more precisely, that group of writings which has been loosely classified as such; it is extremely difficult to produce an exact definition of what the Pastoral ‘is’ but, nevertheless, we shall attempt to identify some common themes across a selection of texts. 
In this argument I shall propose that the most fundamental ‘ingredient’ of the English Pastoral is precisely its engagement with this question of the nature of diremption and its consequences. This study will range from the works of Shakespeare and Milton, the ‘Gothicism’ of Gray, the Romanticism of Wordsworth, the nineteenth century and into the contemporary period, a time-span of almost five hundred years. (Read more.)

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