• “And the Word was God”: rejection, consideration, and incorporation of spiritual motivations in modernist literature

      Boyle, Katherine R. (2021-05)
      As existing scholarship demonstrates, the modernist period in literature (during the first half of the twentieth century) is generally considered to be a period marked by rationality, secularity, and persistent atheism. With the technological advances of the 1900’s, revolutions in science (such as the work of Charles Darwin), and new political priorities that valued dearly the separation of church and state, it is generally thought that the motifs and commitments of traditional, organized religion were long gone, especially within the literary world. In this project, I set out to demonstrate the ways in which three modernist authors – E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and Jorge Luis Borges – reimagine and reincorporate, in their literature, traditional religious motivations. Specifically, I will examine how the “word” of God (exalted in Judeo-Christian doctrine) is utilized and examined by the three authors in order to imagine a new code of significance for language and communication during modernism. With this, I hope to demonstrate the ways in which the modernist period was not simply a rejection or forgetting of a more orthodox religious tradition, but a reimagination and relocation of spiritual experience within interpersonal communication and linguistic ecstasy.