Christian Fantasy: From 1200 to the Present

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University of Notre Dame Press, 1992 - Literary Criticism - 356 pages
This is the first account of invented stories of the Christian supernatural, of fantasies that depict imagined forms of heaven or hell, angel or devil, world and creator; it considers their growth and changes from the time of Dante to the present day. Relatively infrequent, such works nevertheless for centuries represented some of the highest aspirations of art. Works considered here include the French Queste del Saint Graal, Dante's Commedia, the Middle English Pearl, the first book of Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, Milton's Paradise Lost, Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell and poems by Blake; and, from the post-Romantic and increasingly less 'Christian' period, the fantasies of George MacDonald, Charles Kingsley, Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis and many others. In the development of these works, a primary issue is found to be the fantasy-making imagination itself, at first seen as a potential obstacle to plain Christian purpose, but more recently given freer rein in the new aim of demonstrating God's existence in a more secular world. The picture that emerges is of a literary mode which becomes more fictive and indirect in its presentation of Christian vision.

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The French Queste del Saint Graal
The Commedia
The Middle English Pearl

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