OPENING THE EYE OF LOVE

James Purdy's Ethical Allegory

  • Don Adams Professor of English at Florida Atlantic University
Keywords: James Purdy, Pseudo-Dionysius, Benedict XVI, negative theology, llegory, mimesis, ethics, love

Abstract

This essay examines James Purdy's 1975 ethical and allegorical religious novel, In A Shallow Grave, from the viewpoint of negative theology. Purdy's tendency toward negation of the conventional actual-world correspondences of mimetic realism has contributed to the misreading and undervaluing of his visionary ethical fiction. But when Purdy's allegorical-realist texts are approached from the enabling metaphysical and spiritual perspective of the via negativa, as explored in this essay through the writing of Pseudo-Dionysius and Pope Benedict XVI, the fiction's mimetic contrariness may be revealed as the vehicle of ethical instruction and metaphysical revelation. The gist of the novel's ethical instruction concerns the primacy of love in human nature and relations, and the novel's metaphysical revelation is the vision of being's ultimate harmony that is gradually revealed to the eye of love through the insistent negation of our conventional egoistic assumptions regarding self and world.

Author Biography

Don Adams, Professor of English at Florida Atlantic University

Dr  Don Adams is Professor of English at Florida Atlantic University. He has been a Senior Fulbright Scholar in India and Vietnam and has published extensively on modern literature and intellectual history.

References

Benedict XVI, “Deus Caritas Est. Encyclical," Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2005, <http://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/encyc¬li¬cals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est.html> (23 May 2020).

Benedict XVI, “On Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite," Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2008, <http://zenit.org/articles/on-pseudo-dionysius-the-areopagite/> (23 May 2020).

Christopher Lane, “Out with James Purdy: An Interview,” Studies in Contemporary Fiction 40, no. 1 (Fall 1998): 71-90.

Don Adams, "James Purdy's Allegories of Love," Texas Studies in Literature and Language 50, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 1-33.

Donald Pease, “False Starts and Wounded Allegories in the Abandoned House of Fiction of James Purdy,” Twentieth Century Literature 28, no. 3 (Autumn 1982): 335-349.

James Purdy, "Artistic Statement," James Purdy Society 2005, <http://www.jamespurdysociety./> (2 June 2012).

James Purdy, In A Shallow Grave, intro. Jerome Charyn, San Francisco: City Lights, 1988.

Jonathan Franzen, Farther Away, New York: FSG, 2012.

Northrop Frye, A Natural Perspective, New York: Columbia UP, 1995.

Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism, Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1957.

Richard Canning, Gay Fiction Speaks: Conversations with Gay Novelists, New York: Columbia UP, 2000.

Surname Database, <https://www.surnamedb.com/> (23 May 2020).

Published
2020-09-30
How to Cite
Adams, D. (2020). OPENING THE EYE OF LOVE. Journal of Dharma, 45(3), 341-356. Retrieved from http://dvkjournals.in/index.php/jd/article/view/3167