Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reading

Last night I finished reading Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter. It's a fine novel. (I stopped reading Brighton Rock because it didn't hook me.) Greene's novels are fascinatingly Catholic - and I enjoy them immensely. But I also wonder how others approach them and how the Catholicity of the novels affects their readings. The novels are not about Catholicism, but rather about shattered humanity - people who happen to be Catholic. The Heart of the Matter's Henry Scobie, a policeman, wrestles with relationship and sin and peace in the context of brokenness.

At the same time, I am reading Harold Bloom's How to Read and Why. Bloom avers that stories ought to be stripped of ideology and simply be stories. His greatest respect (generally, but specifically here as well) is given to Shakespeare, with whom no personal ideology can be discovered from the stories he tells - he writes about humanity, seemingly without favoritism (though how richly he paints his characters is often telling). Bloom says that we must not pay attention to the one telling the story, but to the story itself. These are good lessons - for readers and writers. Yet Graham Greene's ideology, his Catholicism, at least by the end of his stories, is prominent (always portraying the struggle of one's faith, however, rather than any certainty of faith - always showing us ourselves as fallen men and women). I would like to read Bloom's take on Greene, who does not make Bloom's book - though this list of Bloom's is hardly an effort at exhaustiveness. Bloom covers Graham Greene elsewhere, from my understanding, (I would like to read his opinion) and also believes that Greene has established his place in the "Western Canon."

Greene is a new favorite of mine, because of his Catholicity and regardless of his Catholicity. He writes well. And he is one of the better Christian writers that I've come across in my lifetime. But it is time for a break from Greene, Dostoevsky's The Idiot is lying on my table. And after that I'm going to take a stab at the apocalyptic Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy.

2 comments:

kkollwitz said...

You're prompting me to read Greene again.

I read McCarthy's "The Road" earlier this year. While not explicitly Christian, its worldview was implicitly so...at least to me.

"The Road" reminds me, have you read "The Taking" by Dean Koontz?

Scott Lyons said...

Christian, I haven't read The Taking but I did read The Road. It struck me as Christian as well.