Beauty and Belief: Aesthetics and Religion in Victorian by Hilary Fraser

By Hilary Fraser

This learn is a crucial contribution to the highbrow heritage of Victorian England which examines the religio-aesthetic theories of a few principal writers of the time. Dr Fraser starts off with a dialogue of the classy 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 artwork. the writer identifies major cultural and ancient stipulations which decided the interdependence of aesthetic and non secular sensibility within the interval. She argues that convinced tensions within the considered Wordsworth and Coleridge - tensions among poetry and faith, uprising and response, individualism and authority - persisted to take place themselves through the Victorian age, and as society grew to become more and more democratic, faith in flip grew to become more and more own and secular.

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They preached a doctrine of reserve, claiming that the sanctity of truth about God, in the Scriptures for example, was preserved by its mystical exposition through symbol the truth was veiled from abuse by unbelievers : 'the chosen vehicle for the most direct divine communications has always been that form of speech which most readily adopts and invites such imagery; viz. the Poetical'. 152 In his essay entitled ' Sacred Poetry', Keble draws our attention to the virtues of allegory as a spiritual stimulant : a good deal surely is to be gained from the mere habit of looking at things with a view to something beyond their qualities merely sensible; to their sacred and moral meaning, and to the high association they were intended to create in us.

Creation becomes a magnificent array of symbols bearing a solemn and sacramental significance, attesting to God's permanent presence in the world among men. Through his under­ standing of the moral function of all created things man is able to participate in supernatural truth. In this way, Keble pinned down Wordsworth's natural sacramentalism to a strict definition of the sacrament as a material object created for the purpose of revealing God's presence.

Newman too believed that there was a historical basis to the relation­ ship between art and religion. Thus he suggests that the Oxford Movement itself represented 25 Beauty and Belief a reaction from the dry and superficial character of the religious teaching and literature of the last generation, or century, and as a result of the need which was felt both by the hearts and the intellects of the nation for a deeper philosophy, and as the evidence and as the partial fulfilment of that need, to which even the chief authors of the then generation had borne witness.

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