Celtic, Christian, Socialist: The Novels of Anthony C. West

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Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1993 - 156 страница
Anthony C. West (1910-1988), like Beckett, Joyce, and many another writer born in Ireland, lived and wrote in exile. Nevertheless he, too, made Ireland the microcosmic focus for wider application, as he challenged intellectual and cultural oppression. At cost, perhaps, to his fame, but as a boon to his writing, West kept a maverick independence from schools and coteries. For his unusual language, West has been compared to Thomas and Lawrence; from the start of his career he has been hailed as one of the century's most distinctive stylists writing fiction in English. For his intellectual scope critics have ranked him with Beckett and Joyce. But for all the recognition of his self-educated talent, West has never been well understood as a spiritual writer. In Celtic, Christian, Socialist, Audrey Stockin Eyler suggests that he may indeed be the most systematically spiritual writer Ireland has produced since Yeats.
Eyler shows how West describes the evolution of the human soul - with its antipodal capacities for destruction and creation - and charts its stages of development. Maturation of the soul is integrated with that of the body, and together they paradigmatically suggest for West the development of the culture and of the human race. Materialism, no intrinsically destructive thing to West, nevertheless dominates and impedes modern thought and action, feeds the insatiable Ego, promotes violence, and threatens true, healthy Egoity, essential human community, and even the planet. Eyler traces West's sources to demonstrate the syncretism and integrity of his approach.
The four novels West published during his lifetime (The Native Moment, Rebel to Judgment, The Ferret Fancier, and As Towns With Fire) appeared independently of each other and stand firmly as separate works. Read as a series, however, they chronicle the spiritual growth of an artistic Every-son-of-the-Goddess, from his childhood intimations of immortality to the coming into his manfathering kingdom. Like the novels they discuss, the chapters of Celtic, Christian, Socialist are intended to be read both separately as introductions to particular novels and sequentially as a whole.
Although it deplores the negative effects of this pervasive Egotism, West's quartet is not a simple jeremiad. It implies an unpridefully-offered spiritual alternative premised on the trust that a divine, femininely creative love has stirred the Aeolian harp, and the heart strings as well. Eyler shows how a Wordsworthian influence combines with West's lifelong studies in Celtic and Christian traditions, and how it inspires a Prelude in West's unique prose.

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