The Melancholy, Long, Withdrawing Roar

Theodore Ziolkowski

in Modes of Faith

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226983639
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226983660 | DOI:
The Melancholy, Long, Withdrawing Roar

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The intellectual history of the nineteenth century is in one sense a chronicle of the steadily intensifying contest of faith and reason—a process registered in such contemporary accounts as John W. Draper's The Conflict between Science and Religion (1874) and Andrew Dickson White's classic History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896). As is often the case, the poets were among the first to sense the mood of the age. The nineteenth-century loss of faith finds its earliest literary expression, whether elegiacally or mordantly, in such poems of the late 1860s and 1870s as those by Matthew Arnold and James Thomson. This chapter examines religion in nineteenth-century literature, the conflict of faith and reason, and the extremes of absolute deconversion and of deconversion followed by reconversion, as represented in the contrasting autobiographical accounts of Philip Gosse and Leo Tolstoy. These extremes exemplify the principal patterns evident in several of the major novels of lost faith that begin to be written and published at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Keywords: lost faith; reason; Matthew Arnold; James Thomson; novels; religion; nineteenth-century literature; deconversion; reconversion; Leo Tolstoy

Chapter.  7912 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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