Widely regarded as the exclusive property of sophisticated skeptics, irony yields surprising treasures to a devout Christian. And in reclaiming irony as a mode of divine revelation, Esolen rehabilitates a body of Christian literature often reduced to deceptive illusions by modernist critics. In Shakespearean plays—for instance—in which au courant theorists see only the corrosive ironies of power politics, Esolen discovers a joyfully ironic perspective on how the rhythms of mere time resound with the harmonies of eternity. Similarly, while other readers see in Dostoevsky's probing fiction only the grim realities that compel any mature adult to reject God, Esolen discerns in the narratives of Alyosha Karamazov and Father Zossima the ironically superior wisdom of childlike faith. Christian irony likewise transforms the apparent contradictions of Spenser's erotic poetry into an astonishing affirmation of holy love. The artistry of Dante (Esolen's specialty), Hopkins, Herbert, and a dozen other authors likewise glows with new radiance as their ironies awaken readers to the hidden powers of God's grace. Even the ironies of pagan authors such as Virgil, Sophocles, and Lucretius look richer from a perspective of Christian faith that recognizes the redemptive influence of an Unnamed God. A bracing challenge to the orthodoxies of literary secularism. Christensen, Bryce Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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About the Author
Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College, is the editor and translator of the Modern Library edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. He has published scholarly articles on Spenser, Shakespeare, Dante, and Tasso in various journals and is a senior editor and frequent contributor to Touchstone Magazine.