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FAITH AND FICTION 217 playhouse, in which he might meet the Black Angel with, so to speak, his gloves and hat on. By thus marshalling and marching the forces of anti-theatrical prejudice before us Barish gives us an opportunity to see, not only what a variety ofcritics they are, but what there is within their disparity that links them together. For the churchmen the struggle for salvation was drama enough for anyone, and the assumption of any person but the plainest was dangerous indulgence. For their successors Nietzsche speaks sufficiently in saying, 'Whoever finds enough tragedy and comedy in himself, probably does best when he stays away from the theatre' - that theatre which he described as 'the hashish-smoking and betelchewing of the European.' The anti-theatricals concentrate on the self to a degree that is displeasing to those ofus who like to take arest from ourselves by watching an imitation oflife, or some abstract from life, on the stage, after which we return to ourselves refreshed. The anti-theatrical forces, like Aldous Huxley, are quick to point out the perils to the spirit involved in theatrical life, and the enjoyment of stage performances. If they are really as meanly egotistical as this book suggests their own peril is at least as great. Faith and Fiction J .M. CAMERON David S. Reynolds. Faith in Fiction: The Emergence ofReligious Literature in America Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press 1981. 269. $22.50 That the recounting and reading of fictions are bad things to do has sometimes been believed in puritan societies. Henry James, in his 1884 essay The Art of Fiction: mentions 'the old superstition about fiction being "wicked".' This belief about fictions has, despite the authority of St Augustine, been held tenaciously, sometimes on the ground that fictions are lies, sometimes on the ground that attending to them takes up time that could be given to the Scriptures, to sermons, and to pious conversation. The former objection rests upon a logical confusion: pace Russell, 'The present king of France is bald' is not a lie, for it cannot plausibly be reduced to 'There is an X such that it is the king of France and is bald,' which is certainly false, at least at the present time of writing. That Mr Bennet is witty and that Elizabeth is his favourite daughter is true as a comment on Prideand Prejudice, butJane Austen's showing him as witty and affectionate is not a deception. One couldn't say: there is evidence, or Croker says, or Idon't believe that Mr Bennet is witty, etc; Jane Austen just got him wrong. The second objection has more substance to it. But in a period and a society where religion, or peculiar tenets of this or that religion, come under criticism, or are disregarded - people are more concerned with, say, business or sport - fictions may increase in popular esteem, UNrvERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 52, NUMBER 2, WINTER 198213 0042-02471 8)10200-0217-0219$00.0010 C UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO PRESS 218 J.M. CAMERON and may even attempt to meet the criticisms of the ungodly and the sceptical, by showing the images of religion in a certain light and colour, and by taking up controversies dialectically, as in philosophical dialogues - Plato's, or Berkeley's Alciphron - which are certainly fictions, even where they refer to historical persons. Mr Reynolds gives us a study of the idea of fiction, and of fictions, in the United States from, roughly, the Revolution to the first decade of the twentieth century; and he chooses for examination those popular works that have religious themes or touch upon them in some noteworthy way. On the whole, he is resolute in making a distinction between classics - Hawthorne, Melville, Cooper, Henry James, and 50 on - and popular literature, and writes almost entirely of the latter. These rank growths from the soil of popular literacy are abundant and perhaps Reynolds deserves that his fortitude in reading so many of them should be admired. They have importance of many kinds: as documents in the history of religious thought and, more especially, sensibility; as examples of common taste; as examples of a certain kind...


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