In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

186Rocky Mountain Review any earthly moral or rational restraints to his freedom, he is led to define the self and test his self-will against the ultimate metaphysical will: that of God. To free himself of metaphysical as well as earthly limits Stavrogin commits a rationally conceived, freely enacted, humanly defiant suicide as the ultimate expression of freedom. In teaching Dostoevsky's works I often tell students to avoid certain prefaces and introductions found in translations of the novels because they are confusing, inaccurate, and misleading. Ironically, Amoia, as her footnotes indicate, uses many such prefaces as the major sources to bolster her interpretations of Dostoevsky's fiction. With that in mind, I would advise students or anyone else interested in Dostoevsky to avoid this work. GENE FITZGERALD University of Utah ROBERT ATWAN and LAURANCE WIEDER, eds. Chapters into Verse: Poetry in English Inspired by the Bible. Vol. One (Genesis to Malachi) and Vol. Two (Gospels to Revelation). Oxford University Press, 1993. 481 p. and 391 p. (consider two ways that English-speaking poets have added to a body of literature where the Bible functions as the perfectly formed head: honoring the sacred precursor with poetry that attempts to achieve a similar degree of religiosity or sacredness by retelling a biblical story faithfully, or restating an injunction originally established in the Old or New Testament. Such efforts are obvious in the works of Francis Quarles, George Herbert, or the Puritan Edward Taylor. For readers fond of these poets, familiarity breeds assent. A too generous sample of the work of these three poets—a total of 55 poems—is included in the two volume Oxford press publication Chapters into Verse, edited by Robert Atwan and Laurance Wieder. But poets also derive from the Bible prompts for their own imaginative flights, including poets who challenge the ethical codes that the books of the Bible appear to promote. Works representing all these various poetic responses to the Bible are found in this collection. As the editors state in their Introduction, "The collection covers an enormous range of literary styles, historical periods, and religious backgrounds. Poets from much of the English-speaking world are present, representing a diversity of cultures, communities, and idioms" (1: xxvl). Volume One offers poems prompted by Old Testament passages, Volume Two by New Testament passages. Prior to the individual poem the relevant passage is quoted in the King James translation; and the poems and their "prompts" follow the same order as the books of the Bible: Genesis to Malachi and the Gospels to Revelation. When one considers that the Fall from Eden could in itself prompt anthologies of love poetry, one can begin to appreciate the complexity of the editors' task. The Adam and Eve story highlights the elliptical quality—the Book Reviews187 narrative gaps that provoke so many unanswered questions—that characterizes so much of the Bible. To note one example of this quality, the J author of Genesis does not indicate what, if anything, Eve said when approaching Adam with the banned fruit. Keats describes Adam as puzzled over how to read Eve's reddened face at this crucial moment, how to interpret the appearance accompanying her silence, in "Sharing Eve's Apple": There's a blush for won't, and a blush for shan't, And a blush for having done it: There's a blush for thought and a blush for nought, And a blush for just begun it. (1: 35) The simile in the title—and opening line—of Walt Whitman's "As Adam Early in the Morning" is sufficient to merit its inclusion as one of the variety of poems responding to the description of the pre-fallen Adam and Eve, even though the devotion expressed by Whitman—"Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass, / Be not afraid of my body" (1: 29)— is to the purely physical and the invitation urged upon strangers. These volumes raise the interpretive issue of intertextuality in an especially challenging way in poem after poem. When are a poem's thematic concerns genuinely influenced by a specific biblical passage? When does a poem include merely an allusion to a feature...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-2833
Print ISSN
1948-2825
Pages
pp. 186-190
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-06
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.