William Empson against the Christians

A fascinating review by Eric Griffiths in the TLS of the second volume of John Haffenden’s biography of Empson. This is at the very edge of my reading to date, but I was fascinated by the picture drawn of Empson’s visceral loathing of Christianity, and his crusade (not my word) in the 1950s against “the sick new literary orthodoxy of neo-Christianity”. All sorts of very interesting questions arise about the place of Christian themes in the fiction of the period; who these new Christian gatekeepers were, and precisely to what degree Empson thought Christian conviction was simply objectionable in itself, or whether such conviction on the part of the author compromised the work itself.

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