The Faith of a Critic

The 25 short essays on a variety of "Christian classics" collected in this book originally appeared in the Neiv Oxford Review between November 1979 and October 1982. Collected here, in their total economy, James J. Thompson's essays remind us of the maturing legitimacy of the interdisciplinarv relations between literature and religion. Christian Classics Revisited shows us that these relations need not embarrass us in the way they once embarrassed F.R. Leavis, who wrote in The Common Pursuit (1952): "As for Christian Discrimination, it needs to be said that there can be no substitute for the scrupulous and disinterested approach of the literary critic." Paradoxically, the present plight of the critical function probably stems more from the effort to discriminate empirically than to "discriminate Christianly."

So much of contemporary criticism is nihilistic that when one reads Thompson's deeply felt book the experience is both gratifying and refreshing. Christian Classics Revisited clearK shows that what we perhaps need more of today is not literary critiques but literary celebrations. The time has come for literary scholars to be more aware of their spiritual obligations. Literary criticism, no less than literature as a whole, has a "need for roots," as Thompson demonstrates. (Even before his own death in 1978, Leav is himself, it is interesting to...

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