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Title: Landscapes of encounter : the portrayal of Catholicism in the novels of Brian Moore
Author: Gearon, Liam
ISNI:       0000 0000 7368 4723
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2000
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The novels of the late Brian Moore (1921-1999) - from Judith Hearne (1955) until his final work The Magician's Wife (1997) - are characterised by an enormously varied portrayal of pre- and post-Vatican II Catholicism. As the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) radically changed the public persona of Roman Catholicism, so Brian Moore is one of the few novelists whose literary portrayal of Catholicism effectively spans the period prior to and following this Church Council. The writer's lifelong, personal ambivalence towards the religion of his Ulster upbringing is reflected in his literary work: particularly in the manner in which Moore's fictions portray Catholicism's historical encounter with the cultural and specifically religious other. Yet, arguing that biocritical considerations unnecessarily detract from an understanding of these thematic complexities in the novels themselves as texts, the case is presented for making explicit the literary, ideological and theological intertextuality within Moore's fiction. This intertextuality, it is argued, is most clearly demonstrated in terms of an historical theology in which Moore's portrayal of Catholicism reflects developments in pre- and post-Vatican II Catholicism. Moore's literary treatment of such developments is accentuated through the particularities of culture and place, just as the latter become increasingly important in post- Vatican II Catholicism itself. In the novels of Moore, then, geography as much as theological history is crucial to personal and cultural identity. Plotted as they are in an immensely diverse range of settings, Moore's narratives are as representative of ideological and theological landscapes as they are of geographical and historical worlds. His fictional landscapes - Algeria, Canada, eastern Europe and Haiti, as well as the more obvious Ireland and America - are therefore physical and, in the widest sense, metaphysical. Significantly, though, in terms of ideology, Moore's treatment of the themes of post-Vatican II theology converges with an increasing literary preoccupation with issues of colonialism and postcoloniality. Pre- and post-Vatican II Catholicism thus holds an ambivalent ideological as well as theological status in Moore's novels to the extent that theology maintains either a supportive and 'colonial' or a challenging and 'postcolonial' stance with regard to 'imperialism'. Moore thus uses a range of settings characterised by encounters which are both 'colonial' and Catholic, 'imperial' and theological. This thesis provides the only presently existing, full treatment of Moore's work as a literary convergence of the theological and the ideological, and specifically as a convergence of post-Vatican II and postcolonial perspectives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature