Modern Theodicies: Sir William Golding and Cormac McCarthy

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  • 04 Dec 2013 at 10:45 am #4817

    The Tramp
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    This idea has been in my mind for a long time. Many novelists (and major playwrights like Beckett) have tackled the notion of evil and the sense, if any, to give to human life (and death). Golding always struck me (certainly more than Evelyn Waugh or Muriel Spark) as the modern English master who wrote some of the best novels (and one play) on the subject. No connection — besides the rumour that McCarthy has been an unsuccessful candidate to the Nobel Prize despite trips to Sweden — has been established between the two. I was reading Stig Dagerman (another connection) recently and, immediately, the name of Golding came to my mind. Is there any interesting parallel to establish or is that comparison without rime or reason? I have no clues (almost). It might be worth to think about it though. Writing an essay on Cormac McCarthy’s theodicy would be a very rewarding approach. Like music, I doubt that many people will be interested but one never knows.


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    • This topic was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by  The Tramp.
    04 Dec 2013 at 10:56 pm #4823

    Glass
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    Tramp, I like this post a lot. I wish I had read more Golding but I think Lord of the Flies, which I first read in 8th grade in the mid-1970s, is the only book of his that I’ve read and it has certainly stuck with me all these many years later. I still have my copy of it from those days, though the cover is missing. I’d be up to read more Golding and am curious if you could recommend something?

    Theodicy and McCarthy is definitely interesting and salient. For purely selfish reasons, I like it even more since it’s closely connected to one of my favorite philosophers, Gottfried Leibniz, who coined the term “theodicy” and whose monadology/pre-established harmony of the universe theory I’ve been trying to convince people of just this week, as a matter of fact, but with little success, much to my chagrin. And that’s probably due to my inability to explain it properly to some extent. Folks gots to have their free will. It’s as if you’re taking their guns from them if you try to get them to see the beauty of Leibniz’ thoughts on this. At any rate, I agree there are likely many interesting connections and parallels to be made following these threads.


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    06 Dec 2013 at 4:27 pm #4843

    The Tramp
    Member

    Dear Glass,

    Darkness Visible or Pincher Martin are the first titles that come to my mind.Golding is really an underrated novelist. Theodicy (I’m fascinated by Leibniz almost as much as I am by the Book of Job, Augustine, or Jonathan Edwards). The last work I’ve read by McCarthy seems to eschew the issue by portraying a gallery of sinners in a world designed for their eventual triumph. It is hard to decide if we should read this as deeply as Golding’s scathing views on civilisation, as a poorly exposed “theological problem”, or simply as a symptom of an imagination slowly drying. Last night, I attended a performance of Ibsen’s Doll’s House and, as with Bergman’s early masterpieces, thought that an avalanche of violence (on and off the stage/screen) and a dollop of verbal abuse were not necessary to make us aware that evil/sin is a member of the family. McCarthy’s silences used to strike me as powerful lessons on the nature of mankind. The messianic/apocalyptic vision of the Road was powerful. Then came the Sunset Limited, the HBO movie, and now this. Thomas Bernhard’s works and plays are now a cure against such shallow nihilism. Or Leibniz.


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