By David J. Leigh

ISBN-10: 0823219933

ISBN-13: 9780823219933

Circuitous trips: glossy non secular Autobiography offers a detailed examining and research of ten significant lifestyles tales by way of twentieth-century leaders and thinkers from quite a few non secular and cultural traditions: Mohandas Gandhi, Black Elk, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, C. S. Lewis, Malcolm X, Paul Cowan, Rigoberta Menchu, Dan Wakefield, and Nelson Mandela. The publication makes use of ways from literary feedback, developmental psychology (influenced via Erik Erikson, James Fowler, and Carol Gilligan), and spirituality (influenced via John S. Donne, Emile Griffin, Walter Conn, and Bernard Lonergan). each one textual content is learn within the gentle of the autobiographical culture all started via St. Augustine's Confessions, yet with a spotlight on distinctively sleek and post-modern ameliorations of the self-writing style. The twentieth-century context of spiritual alienation, social autonomy, identification crises and politics, and the hunt for social justice is tested in every one textual content.

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Sample text

For Mandela, the search for justice becomes part of his youthful religous faith at the university, but later moves to the centerof his journey when heconfronts apartheid in Johannesburg. Only in C. S. Lewis’s autobiography does one seek in vain foran explicitly societal phase of his conversions. TENSIONS IN THE SPIRAL: RESOLUTION THROUGH WRITING And so each venture Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate With shabby equipment always deteriorating. . (East C O ~178-80) U The tension just noted between personal conversion and societal awareness is only one of many experienced by modern autobiographers of the spirit.

THEUNFINISHED SPIRAL: READING THE GAPSAND SILENCES And all is always now. Words strain, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden. . Augustine begltls his Cor$issions withfour paragraphs of speculation and prayer about the difficulty of shaping any finite language to express experience of the Infinite: “Can any man say enough when he speaks of you? Yet woe betide those who are most those who are silent about you! For even gifted with speech cannot find words to describe you” (1-4, p. 23). He then begins the story of his infancy as a time of learning to speak and write-but a time dependent on memory, his own and that of his parents.

Paul Cowan’s journalistic research into his ancestors’ motives and lives leads him to admit that “much of a book like this must be largely speculative, and the guesswork is mine” (viii). Merton is only one of several autobiographers who express a variety of self-interpretations as theyreviewtheir original texts. ” (xi). Several other writers acknowledge the gaps between what Lewis calls “general” autobiography and a “spiritual” autobiography, the latter focusing exclusively on the personal journey toward a religious conversion.

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Circuitous Journeys: Modern Spiritual Autobiography by David J. Leigh


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