The Sleep of Reason

Derek Jarrett, Author HarperCollins Publishers $22.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-016049-4
Jarrett views the loss of Christian faiththe translation from Victorian certitude to modern nihilistic despairas overwhelmingly painful. Adopting an episodic, anecdotal approach, his engaging social history shows how a need for the divine has continually reasserted itself, despite Nietzsche's proclamation that ``God is dead.'' Jarrett ponders the nostalgia for paganism that overtook Wordsworth, Hawthorne, Swinburne; charts the mystic forays of theosophists, spiritualists, faith-healers; appraises the angst of Tennyson, Rider Haggard, Stevenson; and explores how Ambrose Bierce, Krafft-Ebing, Oscar Wilde and Aleister Crowley coped with the spiritual vacuum left by the decline of religion. From visions of the Virgin Mary in a cave near Lourdes, France, to T. S. Eliot's use of ancient fertility symbols in his writings, the author of England in the Age of Hogarth covers much ground, including new and unfamiliar territory. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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