Apartment: set! (Er, unless there's some untoward disaster.) Plane ticket: set! (And I don't even have to fly in the wrong direction to change planes. That's what comes of avoiding British Airways this time around...) I'll be in London for approximately six weeks, from mid-May to the end of June, reading religious novels in the British Library and, with any luck, looking at some publishers' archives.
This again. It seems to me that it is not, in fact, all that hard to avoid propositioning one's students--and that, moreover, if one is so endowed with chili peppers that the students proposition you, it is equally not that hard to defer certain unclothed activities to a more appropriate moment. That moment being when that student is no longer in any way under your control. "But wait!" you wail. "You're asking me to put off coupling for two years?! The student will have lost interest by then!" And so will you, I imagine, which is rather the point. If this is actually a grand passion that involves violins, sunsets, and spontaneously-blossoming roses, then no doubt you can take the necessary, if potentially cumbersome, steps to ensure that said grand passion can be pursued without violating your professional integrity or the student's rights.
Now, I admit to being unsympathetic because, in fact, a number of the faculty-student sex stories that have come to my attention have had negative repercussions for other students. In other words, this is never entirely about two (or more?) star-crossed would-be lovers; it's about the other students and even, yes, one's colleagues (who may have to pick up the pieces if something goes, to use an esoteric technical term, disastrously kaflooey--and, of course, I can think of at least two departments in the 80s and 90s that imploded over sexual harassment problems). Moreover, while I do in fact know plenty of "old-timey" stories about professors whose hands wandered on a regular basis, and whose female students shrugged and put up with it, it's never been clear to me that said students found such behavior precisely entertaining. They "put up with it" because, pace Prof. Kipnis, they appear to have felt that they had no choice in the matter. Now students have more choice in the matter, and strange as it may appear, many of them don't feel like being fondled, propositioned, or otherwise handled.
Finally, and I admit that this is unpopular in some quarters: one of the downsides of this profession, as with any profession, is that you don't get to be yourself, to indulge yourself, or to do whatever, er, yourself feels like whenever it pleases you. Part of that not-being-yourselfness means that you treat your students as students, and not as sex objects. Their lives will be full of plenty of "vulnerability" without your assistance.
There are times when exploring non-canonical fiction opens up all sorts of new intellectual worlds to explore. New authors! New ideas! New narrative forms! New tropes!
And then, there are times when exploring non-canonical fiction leads you to contemplate a new life as a George Eliot specialist.
This would be one of the latter.
If you're going to study nineteenth-century Catholic fiction, then it's impossible to escape Anna Hanson Dorsey (1815-96), an American novelist who was extremely popular in the USA and enjoyed some measure of transatlantic success. Unfortunately, "success" does not equate with "remains readable," and the experience of reading Dorsey's work is somewhat akin to being clocked over the head by a never-ending stream of clumsy adjectives and adverbs, then slowly drowned beneath waves of dialogue unlike anything that ever has been or ever will be spoken by mortal tongues. In The Sister of Charity, characters have a bad habit of declaiming thus:
"I know, I know, that these tumultuous feelings are not natural to me, dearest father; I fear nothing for myself, but oh! some strange, sad presentiment assures me, that human life is struggling in wild agonies with those waves whose loud thunder we hear—that prayers which can only be heard in heaven mingle with the blast—that ere long, the brave, the lion-hearted, the fair and good, will go down to their death, beneath the waters of yon furious ocean; within hearing almost of our sheltered home." (I.9-10)
In other words, there's a ship out there in a storm.
I managed to get about one hundred pages into Charles Dolman's UK reprinting of The Sister of Charity before reaching peak exasperation. It's time to defuse my ire by diffusing it, as it were...
I. 96: We're in the midst of an apparently hopeless murder trial--for patricide, no less. The young and hunky Herbert, a lawyer, has been brought in as part of a last-ditch effort to save the defendant; the defendant is a saintly Catholic, whereas Herbert, while (as I said) young and hunky, is also addicted to laudanum (gulp) and, even, worse...
I.98: ...reads Voltaire. Shock, horror, &c.
I.103: The prisoner "fell fainting back on some kind breast, which sprang forwards under a momentary impulse, to save him from falling." Somebody's chest detached itself from their body and took pity on the prisoner?
I.103: The author declines to transcribe the "burning eloquence" of Herbert's speech, which is probably wise, under the circumstances. Not only is the speech "burning," but it's also akin to "the lightning-fires of heaven" and tinctured with "immortal fire." It's amazing that the pages haven't scorched.
I.104: Dorsey really likes "lightning," I guess.
I.105: In a fit of guilt, the real murderer shows up and exonerates the prisoner. Now we have fratricide instead of patricide.
I.110: The murderous uncle, having cleared his nephew, conveniently drops dead right after his confession. Violent relations can be so aggravating.
I.111: Uncle-the-corpse is "trampled out of all resemblance to humanity," which is presumably some sort of cosmic poetic justice at work.
I.117: Herbert turns out to be terribly anti-Catholic, which means that he is either going to die horribly or convert and die pleasantly.
I.119: "Evelyn Herbert, are you an atheist?" I will pause a moment to allow all of my readers to recover from this terrible shock.
I.124: Alas, in the wake of Herbert's revelation, the beauteous Corinne is most unsympathetic to his marriage proposal. You would have thought that Herbert might have noticed the atmosphere growing distinctly icy.
I.126: Also, Herbert apparently needed to use breath mints.
I.132: Herbert resorts to "copious potations" in order to get over the sting of rejection.
Just taking a drink was not, I gather, sufficiently elegant for Dorsey's tastes.
I.132: When drunk, Herbert has a habit of "declaiming" atheism like "a madman." He turns out to be a fan of Lucretius, Zeno, and Epicurus, all of whom Dorsey's readers should be careful to avoid.
I.133: Mom charitably wishes that her son had "died" of illness as a boy instead of living to drink alcohol and read Voltaire.
I.143-48: We pause our drama to explain the life of a sister in the order of St. Vincent de Paul.
I.150: I'm not sure that the name "Father Borgia" would have conjured up the most positive associations...
I.158-59: We pause our drama again in order to demonstrate how to set up a domestic oratory.
I.168: Protestant nations are given not just to all manner of horrors, but also to "fanaticism" and, even worse, "transcendentalism." Ralph Waldo Emerson, what have you done?
I.176: After expounding on the difference between Catholic nations (good) and Protestant (bad), we move on to explicating the role of images in Catholic worship. As in a Protestant novel, this is a signal to hit "monologue mode" on the character's control panel.
I.183: What the--Dolman's must have made a printing error and transposed a lot of text, because while the page numbers are correct, the action has skipped mid-word to an entirely different scene. I am confuzzled. Is there a Tardis handy? Perhaps we could send a proofreader back in time.
In case you're wondering, Herbert's mother seems to have collapsed.
I.184: Now we're back to our first speaker, but we're still missing a chunk of his monologue. I mean, that's probably all for the best, but...
I.185: And now we're back to Herbert (I guess), threatening someone (who?) with a stone pitcher. This certainly lends a postmodern aura to the proceedings.
I.186: OK, we're back to our first speaker at Elverton Hall, whose monologue apparently concluded while the narrative skipped to this...other thing. Perhaps the rest of the monologue will show up in Herbert's scene?
I.188: Well, we had about two pages in the same scene, and now we're somewhere else entirely. This is the most bizarre reading experience I've had in some time. I can only imagine what some literary theorist, happening upon this book two thousands year from now, will conclude about nineteenth-century narrative form.
I.190:...And we appear to have jumped to the end of the novel, except that we're not yet at the end of volume one. I need to find a different copy of this book to inflict upon myself read.
While a graduate student at the University of Chicago, I once walked the complete works of Charles Reade (thanks, AMS Press) several blocks from the South Loop branch of Powell's to the bus stop, and several blocks again from the bus stop to my apartment. The weather that day was warm and sunny. Yesterday, I managed to walk eleven volumes of the "Novels of Faith and Doubt" series (thanks, Garland Press) from my office to the car, which was not as impressive an achievement, but did involve negotiating an unexpected snow storm. And here people thought that buying books had nothing to do with upper body exercise.
Carter Maness' "All My Blogs are Dead" details the mass disappearance of his online prose as media outlet after media outlet goes kaput. But this is also a problem with many online academic and quasi-academic resources. When I went through my bookmarks a few weeks ago to clear out the dud links, I found that site after site had simply gone kerflooey (a very useful technical term)--not just sites like Literary Gothic (now available only via the Wayback Machine) and the lottery-funded Literary Heritage--West Midlands (which only brings up a blank page), but any number of university-hosted projects as well, like Intute (defunded), the Scottish Book Trade Archive, and so forth. Somebody leaves; somebody's grant doesn't get renewed; somebody's academic interests go in a different direction. The current state of GoogleBooks is also cause for concern; although HathiTrust and archive.org have overlapping archives, Google's increasingly evident sloppiness when it comes to maintaining the project should ring alarm bells, not least because of Google's habit of emulating the Terminator when they lose interest. (I feel like I should download all 3K+ books in my favorites list, just to be on the safe side.) Obviously, I have some self-interest here: for academics in relatively isolated locations, at schools with small libraries, or otherwise without access to a major research collection, online resources play a key role in shaping the kind of projects we can undertake (and, in some cases, the courses we can teach). But they have a bad habit of disappearing without a trace.
I have a bad habit of being a completist. This is a very bad habit indeed when one is working on a big literary history (known hereafter as Book 3 1/2) of an omnipresent nineteenth-century genre, because, of course, one cannot read every religious novel published in Britain between 1800-1900; I've identified well over a thousand of them, and stumble across more of them every week. Unlike Book 2, which had a well-defined corpus of novels to work with (historical novels! religious! about the Reformation! written in/available in the UK!), Book 3 1/2 is about a pretty amorphous field (religious novels! written in/available in the UK!); this is where Moretti's "distant reading" certainly has its appeal. The difficulty is not so much "where to start" (I've been reading this material for fifteen years!) as "when to stop." Last night, after I surfaced from the first week of classes (hence the radio pixel silence), I pulled up a book from my to-read list, an anonymous novel published by John F. Shaw called Christine; Or, the Bible Girl. And I read it. And I knew exactly what was going to happen at every step of the way, because it did absolutely nothing unusual or innovative for a novel of the 1870s. In that sense, Christine demonstrated that, yes, certain tropes had hardened (into what felt like literal concrete, reading-wise) by the last third of the Victorian period--but from a literary-historical perspective, I already knew that. If I were to write an article solely on J. F. Shaw's output, the novel might come in handy, but I doubt that it will rate even a single mention in Book 3 1/2. At this point, as I come near the end of my "let's read" period and move on to the "let's write" period, I need to be much more strict with myself about post-holing this kind of fiction (i.e., read X number of authors from X publisher during period X-Y), because too much of what I'm still reading doesn't teach me anything new about religious fiction and its various subgenres. Which is another way of saying: here is what I can write about now (at this point, quite a bit); there is what I can write about after I do more reading.
And now we return to our regularly-scheduled religious fiction. For novelists trying to clothe current feuds in the garb of the past, the seventeenth century was a fertile hunting ground for all sorts of politico-theological problems: you have your Civil War, your Protestant infighting, your religious conspiracies, your deadly plagues. And, of course, everyone could point to such-and-such or so-and-so in order to authorize their own practices (e.g., the well-known influence of Caroline theologians on the Oxford Movement). At the same time, novelists, especially Protestant novelists, seemed more pressed to deal with the messiness of the era than did novelists writing about the Reformation (who could more easily retreat to a Protestant Us vs. Catholic Them--or vice-versa--narrative). Charles Benjamin Tayler's Truth; Or, Persis Clareton (1853), while hardly as complex as some other Victorian fictional attempts to grapple with the era (Elizabeth Rundle Charles' work is a case in point), illustrates some of these trends. Tayler, himself an Anglican clergyman, published Truth during the highwater decade for anti-Catholic political agitation, but while the novel is openly anti-Catholic, it is more specifically preoccupied with allegorizing one popular anti-Oxford Movement conspiracy theory--the belief that Oxford Movement clergymen were really Jesuits in disguise (really, secret Catholic priests were never enough, they had to be Jesuits)--and agitating against demands for Anglican uniformity.
Truth is a title that takes no prisoners, and it refers both to the true faith and to the Claretons' unfailing belief in the necessity of telling the truth at all costs. (Unlike those nasty Catholics.) The novel, although somewhat bizarrely structured--it opens with characters who turn out to be completely marginal, and has an anti-Catholic inset narrative appear out of nowhere (of which more anon)--follows the experiences of Persis and her Presbyterian father, Mr. Clareton, in the wake of the Restoration. Despite the protection of an exemplary Episcopalian like Sir Ralph Cleveland, who during the days of Cromwell "had not shut his eyes to the improved state of morals throughout the country, whenever a godly Presbyterian minister had been placed over a parish" (71), Clareton suffers through a series of laws that turn him, in effect, into a fugitive: the Act of Uniformity (1662), leading to the Great Ejection; the Conventicle Act (1664); and the Five-Mile Act (1665). Early on, Clareton muses, looking at a flower bed, that "who that looks upon these variegated flower-plots, and inhales the combined sweetness of their different odours, would wish for uniformity" (7), and this paean to the Church of England's potential spiritual capaciousness (differences harmonized within boundaries) embodies the tolerant attitude that the novel preaches, but generally fails to find. Pointedly, while the novel celebrates its saintly Episcopalians, like Clareton's brother Gabriel and Persis' nurse Mabel, the Episcopalians in power are persecuting spirits, with a sorry penchant for "the enforcing of uniformity" (209). Here's part I of the allegory: the Episcopalians ( = the Oxford Movement & its immediate descendants) falsely elevate conformity in adiaphora (things indifferent), such as wearing the surplice, over agreement in essential truths; meanwhile, the Presbyterians ( = the Low Church/evangelical wings of the C of E, as well as Dissenters) stick to the Bible. Moral of this part of the story: ignore the conformist guys.
Then, of course, there are the secret Jesuits, without whom many Victorian religious novels would be far shorter. As I mentioned, this is a lengthy inset narrative about an otherwise irrelevant family, the Avenels, who are--gulp--a mixed marriage. (This, as I have also said before, is 99.9% of the time Not a Good Thing, unless the author is a liberal Protestant.) Things are going swimmingly for the Avenels, both male (Catholic) and female (Protestant), until priest #1 (non-interfering, possibly a convert to Protestantism before his death) dies and is replaced by the this-could-go-either-way-named Father Foxe. Alas, Fr. Foxe is not a Foxe of the John Foxe variety, but merely foxy. Indeed, he encourages people to...wait for it...lie. More specifically, Foxe's arrival enables Tayler to inject yet another iteration of what Maureen Moran calls the "Popish plot," in which Roman Catholic clergy seek to retake English soil not by violence, but by proselytization: Mrs. Avenel's daughter is to be a "great heiress," and therefore Foxe seeks to convert her so that the Church can control her property (132).* Foxe's deception in the Avenel family turns out to miniaturize that of the purported Anglican clergyman Mr. Moleville, who is actually the Jesuit Father Monckton. Foxe seeks to steal one Protestant family's property, along with their child, while Moleville sets out to subvert an entire parish's spirituality (and, presumably, their property into the bargain). Roman Catholicism embodies the dangers of compulsory conformity to "ceremonies," as well as the threat posed to faith by the ardent "formalist" (56); it is the ever-present reminder that those who elevate the Book of Common Prayer above the Bible (that's how Tayler construes the situation, in any event) as the core of the C of E engage in what amounts to idolatry. It's just one step from compulsory conformity within the C of E to becoming a Roman Catholic, it seems. Here's Part II of our allegory: the Oxford Movement is a fifth column within the Church, relying on performance (of rituals and of personality) to sway the English people from their Protestant allegiance to the Bible. Moral of the story: um, again, ignore those guys. (In case you're wondering, the only decent Catholics in the novel wind up converting to Protestantism, that apparently being the definition of a decent Catholic.)
Snark aside, one of the genuinely interesting things about the novel is its interest in community-building via narratives of martyrdom. One of Book Two's points is that the Victorians were obsessed by the prospect of Protestants forgetting their Reformation heritage; here, although Persis' faith emerges from Bible reading, it is reinforced by Mabel's many "true and heart-moving stories" (48) about Lollard and Reformation martyrs, many of them women. This emphasis on the nurse's moral storytelling both offers an alternative to the kind of dangerous tales stereotypically associated with nursemaids and servants (as in Jane Eyre, for example) and associates the martyr narrative with mothering and feminized oral culture. It also reinforces that women and men are equally called to witness for the truth (a point of obvious relevance for Persis' own heroic resilience). In this novel, the nurse's martyr narratives are the counterpart to the portrait of Bishop Hooper above the fireplace, which symbolizes Clareton's own clerical priorities: in the end, "defenders of the truth" must rest on "points of real and vital importance" (12), not mere "ceremonies."
*--I've written about overlaps between nineteenth-century Jewish and Catholic stereotypes before, but the intersection of financial stereotyping (both Jews and Catholics seeking control by acquiring Gentile/Protestant property) could perhaps use some more analysis? Hmm.
My work on a blog post about another novel nobody has read was interrupted by David Perlmutter's article in the CoHE, which argues that no, the conference interview should not die on the vine. I think I remain under-convinced.
[As an aside: the argument against MLA interviews on the grounds of expense could be extended to conference-going in general for grad students, those not on the TT, junior faculty, &c. Schuman et al. have been calling attention to MLA expenses because you have to incur them for interviews, but every domestic conference I've attended in recent years has cost $1K+ between travel, accomodations, registration, and not starving to death. And by "not starving to death" I mean eating at cheap restaurants and, in some cases, packing breakfast in my luggage, not finding the swankiest eateries in town. Some things can be finagled--finding a roommate to lower expenses being the most obvious--but travel often can't. My college is generous with funding, but even so, our allowance usually covers no more than part of one conference; going to more than one means anteing up out of pocket.]
So, to go through Perlmutter's bullets:
"Expense." There are some untested assumptions here. It is not a given that faculty will attend a big national conference "anyway": for me and many of my colleagues, the MLA is not necessarily a particularly relevant or useful conference, and faculty in other disciplines report having a similar relationship to their equivalent umbrella organization. (Don't get me wrong: some years, the MLA has a lot that interests me; many other years...it doesn't.) And of course campus visits are pricey, but the whole point of phone/Skype interviews is that one can sort out the candidates beforehand, right?
"Up close and personal assessment." The difficulty here in part derives from preparation--most graduate departments coach their students for the MLA interview (assuming they coach their students...) and not for phone/Skype interviews, which are a different skillset. For example, someone Skyping needs to know some basic things, like where to position the chair and camera in order to simulate eye contact, how to neutralize the background so as to eliminate distractions, and so on, just as someone phoning has to learn how to compensate for missing physical cues (e.g., by erring on the side of concision in one's answers). But, honestly, it's also a matter of taste, which is not an argument for or against. I should also note that it's just as easy to make a bad impression during a ftf interview, so...
"Technological leveling." Now this, I think, is a legitimate concern: we cannot make cheery assumptions about candidates' access to a) high-quality internet connections, b) decent camera equipment, whether in a studio or on a computer, and c) suitable conditions. A solid graduate program should be able to make all of these things available to their students, but contingent faculty (and, for that matter, faculty at resource-poor campuses) may not be able to muster all or even any of those things. That being said, candidates should be given the opportunity to interview by Skype or phone, not just by Skype.
"Comparisons in context." Speaking of context, the comparison shopping analogy is perhaps not the best way of referring to people seeking jobs (although, in practice, goodness knows that candidates are objectified enough). In any event, the idea that the conference interview serves as a neutral "shopping" site for all candidates does not engage with the class-based aspect of Schuman et al.'s critique, let alone the ways in which candidates have reported being positively disadvantaged by the conditions of conference interviewing (the dreaded hotel bedroom interview from campuses unavailable to afford a suite being the most notorious). Perlmutter's suggestions for the advantages of conference interviewing seem somewhat up-and-down: yes, you can get practice "reading a room," but given that many candidates can now expect only a tiny handful of interviews, the opportunities for gaining this skill would appear to be minimal; "network," maybe; the magical "come and be interviewed right now," sure, unless your HR department wallops you hard for doing such a thing; and the "abandon all hope, ye who enter here" situation, also sure, except that in reality, that doesnt necessarily compute until you get to the campus interview.
It's time for our first bad religious novel of the year!
[pauses for applause]
Unlike most of the authors I discuss on this blog, Annie Fellows Johnston actually has name recognition for something entirely different: the "Little Colonel" novels, set in turn-of-the-century Kentucky (and the inspiration for the Shirley Temple film of the same name). In League with Israel (1896), published right after the first of the Little Colonel series, is, by contrast, the sort of thing I tend to read, set at an exceptionally specific moment in time: in and around the second (not the first, but the second!) International Conference of the Epworth League in Chattanooga, TN at the end of June, 1895. The still-extant Epworth League is a Methodist organization, and, not surprisingly, In League with Israel is a brief for Methodist activism, both in terms of philanthropy and proselytization. Specifically, this is a philosemitic novel invested in Methodist missions to the Jews, although it also takes on such issues as hymns (really not vulgar at all!) and professional women (not always unfeminine!).
The plot, to the extent that there is a plot, is simple. A young Jewish lawyer, David Herschel, member of a Reformed congregation (like most evangelicals, Johnston doesn't like Reform Judaism), goes off to get his sister, whom his rabbi fears may be falling into the hands of...gasp...Christians. He travels in the company of Frank B. Marion, a big, booming Methodist shoeseller (but emphasis on the Methodist part), and, among others, the beauteous (albeit not yet truly converted) Bethany Hallam, complete with "halo" of "golden hair" (21). There are hints of romantic tension between David and Bethany, none of which go anywhere (he's engaged, she's being pursued by a Methodist preacher, and the novel ends without wrapping up the characters' futures). As a result, David sees part of the Epworth League conference, where he is struck (psychologically, I mean, not physically) by a converted Jew, Isaac Lessing. Lessing had been converted by a predictably annoying--er, I mean, angelic--little girl, whose prayers in church led to him "joyfully confessing the Christ he had been taught to despise" (67). David does not quite repeat that experience, although Bethany's disabled brother Jack, a proud member of the Junior League, certainly influences him. Bethany, meanwhile, has a different cross to bear: a formerly wealthy girl, the death of her father has left her virtually penniless, and she must resort to stenography in order to earn a living. As she discovers, though, trusting to God brings her a job and renters in short order, promptly alleviating her financial worries. (After reading so much Victorian Catholic fiction of late, where divine providence is just as likely to reward you with more suffering as it is more bread, it's hard not to notice that God's will works awfully...conveniently...here. Sure, her father is dead, but she gets over it, as does Lee, another orphan later on.) It is Bethany whose urgings finally lead David to read the New Testament closely, as an earnest inquirer, and prompt his final conversion to both Methodism and a self-sacrificing life as a missionary to other Jews.
As always, it's possible to find at least a couple of things worthy of note. First, the novel's relentlessly domestic vision of Methodist community (which speaks in part to the arguments recently made by Claudia Stokes, among others). This domesticity is not simply spatial, linked to the oh-so-familiar concept of a private sphere, but potentially global; it is a quality of affect and joint belief. Frank B. Marion, the oversized Methodist, offers a "warm welcome" (180) to all his visitors, incorporating them into his nuclear family; similarly, when David attends a Methodist service, he feels as though "he had stumbled by mistake onto some family reunion" (257). The Methodists are marked throughout by their homeliness, their willingness to incorporate almost random people into their community, and their love of all forms of productive home labor (farming, candy-making, sewing, etc.). Moreover, drawing on earlier nineteenth-century theories of female influence, the novel detaches home-making from any one space--hence its praise for the Deaconesses, women who go out to nurse in some of the region's most horrifying neighborhoods, as well as for Bethany's belief that "we carry our own atmosphere with us" (121). In League with Israel thus makes both genders instrumental in shaping a potentially global Christian community that has, as it were, no "outside."
In theory. In practice, the reader notices that the novel's vision of Methodist community excludes African-Americans entirely, even though they were in fact present at the Chattanooga conference. Whether the novel notices that is another issue. What the novel does notice is that Methodists insist on constructing Jews as racial and religious Others who are "outside" their otherwise domestic spiritual community. (It also notices in passing that converts face "Christian distrust"  alongside their rejection by the Jewish community, an acknowledgment found more commonly in narratives by converted Jews than those authored by Christians.) Like most philosemitic texts, In League with Israel defines prejudice in terms of some combination of ignorance of Jewish history and general dislike for Jews as a race, but nevertheless relies on a supersessionist understanding of religious history. Significantly, the prejudiced characters redeem themselves by undertaking a thorough study of Jewish history, even somehow backdating Zangwill's Children of the Ghetto to "the early days of the century" (141). To the extent that Judaism has a current function, it is as what Stephen Haynes calls a "witness-people": the existence of Jews proves that there is a God and that the Biblical prophecies are true. Frank tells David that Rabbi Barthold is "trying to rekindle the pride and zeal and hope of an ancient day" (187), resuscitating an effectively dead faith, while clergyman George Cragmore, attending a service, has a sudden vision of "the Old Temple" in the "modern" synagogue (192). Modern Judaism can thus at best embody the past in the Christian present, but Jews are disbarred from full "presentness" until they turn to Christ. According to Lessing, the convert, Jews apparently regard Christian disinterest in their conversion as a "glaring inconsistency" (75)--which, I fear, made this Jew sigh and say, "oi gevalt."