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« Return of bookcase blogging (without the bookcases) | Main | This Week's Acquisitions »

June 27, 2007

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Richard Heft

Although I believe it's technically Edwardian fiction, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES is a rationalist text that has doggedly kept its popularity (pun intentional). Doyle tried a skeptic-conversion narrative in one of the Professor Challenger novels; Challenger ultimately bends his knee to the revealed truth of Spiritualism. It's a dreadful book.

Ray Davis

Even if one views the supernatural as a virus, it makes sense that one should contract it early and often if one is to avoid catastrophe in adult life.

Another example of the rationalist gone too far.

Brandon

The reader suspects that there's a connection between Tom's conversion to the supernatural and Tom's entry into the Church ("poor fellow"), but the narrator's own pre-existing "superstitious" leanings do not lean him towards a religious vocation. Indeed, if the narrator has anything in the way of religious sentiment, it's difficult to detect it in this tale.

That's interesting, because it does seem as if there is a strand of thought at least by the late nineteenth century that is precisely this -- in some sense superstitious, but at the same time very nonreligious. (Society for Psychical Research and the like, with some members looking at the alleged phenomena as religious phenomena, and some merely regarding them as facts having little to do with religion as such.) But I don't know much about the history of this line of thought.

The Constructivist

While teaching this semester in Japan a course on American literary hauntings based on a world lit course I stopped teaching 7 years ago, I realized I'd have to give my students a lot of historical, cultural, and political context. Here's one attempt that's precisely relevant to this discussion. What do you think of it?

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