Exultemur et laetemur. English and Anglo-American Rewritings of the Story of Christ

Paola Di Gennaro

Abstract


The novel genre has explored – with its peculiar possibilities – the dynamic changes, in significance and expectations, that the figure of Christ, a “character” strictly codified in the Gospels,  has inspired again and again in different contexts. The starting point is the examination of constants and variants in the representation of Christ in the discourse developed in the period that stretches from the last decades of the nineteenth century to the end of the last century (Renan, Wallace, Papini, Mauriac, D. H. Lawrence, Moore, Graves, Kazantzakis, Artaud, Moorcock, Bulgakov, Endō, Saramago) – rewritings that have reinterpreted historical and religious facts in order to transform them into something else: epitome, metaphor, objective correlative, scapegoat.

The aim of this paper is to analyse a number of British and Anglo-American literary texts and films of the last decades which have used irony or explicit laughter as instruments for retelling in heterodox – but only apparently blasphemous – ways the life of Jesus, between canonical and apocryphal Gospels, making it new material, euphoric and vital hypostasis. This was possible only after the appearance of Nietzsche’s antichrist, after the figure of Christ had become, in the nineteenth century, Hegelian (Strauss), proto-communist (Sauriac and Lynn Linton) and positivist (Renan). In particular, two texts will be analyzed: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal (2002), by Christopher Moore, and The Second Coming (2011) by John Niven, and also classic films such as Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979), and Dogma (1999), directed by Kevin Smith. In these works of the twenty-first century, Christ is still a character who has to fulfil his destiny, in one way or another; these texts represent real theological fictions, complex constructions that want to draw, in an effective way, a reassuring road to salvation, a customised paradise.


Keywords


Christ; Rewriting; Laughter; Niven; Moore

Full Text:

PDF (Italiano)

References


Alderman, Naomi, The Liars’ Gospel, London, Penguin, 2012.

Bell, Michael – Poellner, Peter (eds.), Myth and the Making of Modernity. The Problem of Grounding in Early Twentieth-Century Literature, Amsterdam-Atlanta, GA, Rodopi, 1998.

Bergson, Henri, Le rire (1899), trad. it. Il riso. Saggio sul significato del comico, Bari-Roma, Laterza, 1994.

Boitani, Piero, Ri-Scritture, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1997.

Brunel, Pierre (ed.), Companion to Literary Myths, Heroes and Archetypes (1988), London and New York: Routledge, 1992.

Bulgakov, Michail, Master i Margarita (1966-1967), trad. it. Il maestro e Margherita (1967), Milano, Bur, 2003.

Bultmann, Rudolf, Jesus Christ and Mythology (1926), Upper Saddle River, Prentice Hall, 1997.

Bultmann, Rudolf, Jaspers, Karl, Myth & Christianity: An Inquiry Into The Possibility Of Religion Without Myth (1954), New York, Noonday Press, 2005.

Burns, Paul C., Jesus in Twentieth-Century Literature, Art, and Movies, London-New York, Continuum, 2007.

Callaghan, Morley, A Time for Judas, Canada, Macmillan, 1983.

Charpentreau, Jacques, La Vie de Jésus racontée par les poètes, Paris, Desclée De Brouwer, 1982.

Crace, Jim, Quarantine: A Novel, New York, Picador, 1999.

Crossan, John Dominic, Raid on the Articulate: Comic Eschatology in Jesus and Borges (1976), Eugene, Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2008.

Dabezies, André, Jésus-Christ dans la littérature française. Textes du Moyen Age au XXeme siecle, Paris, Desclée, 1987.

De Luca, Erri, Penultime notizie circa Ieshu/Gesù, Milano, Emp, 2009.

Decoin, Didier, Jésus le Dieu qui riait. Une histoire joyeuse du Christ, Paris, Éditions Stock, 1999.

Du Toit, C. W., Images of Jesus: A Compilation of Papers Presented at the Twenty-First Symposium of the Research Institute for Theology, Pretoria, University of South Africa Press, 1997.

Eggleston, Edward, Christ in Literature: A Treasury of Choice Readings, New York, Ford, 1875.

Eliade, Mircea, Trattato di storia delle religioni (1948), Torino, Bollati Boringhieri, 2009.

Eshima, Yasuko, Le Christ fin de siècle, Tusson, Du Lérot, 2002.

Evdokimov, Michel, Le Christ dans la tradition et la littérature russes, Paris, Mame Desclée, 2007.

Flüsser, David, Jésus, Paris, Éditions de l’éclat, 2005.

France, Anatole, “Le procurateur de Judée”, L’Étui de nacre, Paris, C. Lévy, 1892.

Frye, Northrop, The Great Code. The Bible and Literature (1982), San Diego – New York – London, Harvest, 1983.

Gill, Glen Robert, Northrop Frye and the Phenomenology of Myth, Toronto – Buffalo – London, University of Toronto Press, 2006.

Gillespie, Gerald, “Bible Lessons: The Gospel according To Frye, Girard, Kermode, and Voegelin”, By Way of Comparison. Reflections on the Theory and Practice of Comparative Literature, Paris, Honoré Champion éditeur, 2004: 71-83.

Girard, René, La violence et le sacré (1972), trad. it. La violenza e il sacro, Milano, Adelphi, 2008.

Girard, René, Le bouc émissaire (1982), trad. it. Il capro espiatorio,Milano, Adelphi, 1999.

Graves, Robert, King Jesus (1946), New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1981.

Holderness, Graham, Re-Writing Jesus. Christ in 20th-Century Fiction and Film, London, Bloomsbury, 2015.

Irving, John, A Prayer for Owen Meany, New York, Ballantine Books, 1997.

Jasper, David – Prickett, Stephen – Hass, Andrew (eds.), The Bible and Literature. A Reader, Oxford, Blackwell Publishers, 1999.

Jeffrey, David Lyle (ed.), A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, Grand Rapids, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992.

Jung, Carl Gustav, Psychology and Western Religion, London – New York, Ark, 1998.

Jung, Carl Gustav, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Second Edition, Hove, Routledge, 2010.

Jung, Carl Gustav, Kerényi, Károly, Einführung in das Wesen der Mythologie (1942), trad. it. Prolegomeni allo studio scientifico della mitologia, Torino, Bollati Boringhieri, 2008.

Kazantzakis, Nikos, The Last Temptation of Christ (1960), New York, Simon & Schuster, 1998.

Kuschel, Karl-Josef, The Poet as Mirror. Human Nature, God and Jesus in Twentieth-Century Literature, Ostfildern, Patmos Verlag, 1997.

Lombardi, Chiara (ed.), Il personaggio. Figure della dissolvenza e della permanenza, Alessandria, Edizioni dell’Orso, 2008.

Lynch, William F., Christ and Apollo: The Dimensions of the Literary Imagination, Wilmington, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2003.

Lynn Linton, Eliza, True History of Joshua Davidson, Christian and Communist (1874), General Books, 2010.

Mailer, Norman, The Gospel According to the Son (1997), London, Random House, 1999.

Malaparte, Curzio, Il Cristo proibito (1949), Ed. Luigi Martellini, Napoli, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1992.

Manacorda, Mario Alighiero, Lettura laica della Bibbia (1989), Roma, Editori Riuniti, 1996.

Mase-Hasegawa, Emi, Christ in Japanese Culture: Theological Themes in Shusaku Endo’s Literary Works, Leiden, Brill, 2008.

Mauriac, François, La vie de Jésus (1936), trad. it. Vita di Gesù, Milano, Bur, 2009.

Metzger, Bruce M. – Coogan, Michael D. (eds.), The Oxford Companion to the Bible, New York – Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993.

Moorcock, Michael, Behold the Man, London, Allison & Busby, 1969.

Moore, Christopher, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal (2002), New York, Harper Perennial, 2004.

Moore, George, The Apostle, Dublin, Maunsel, 1911.

Moore, George, The Brook Kerith, a Syrian Story, Edimbourg, T.W. Laurie, 1914.

Niven, John, The Second Coming (2011), London, Windmill Books, 2014.

Pullman, Philip, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Edinburgh, Canongate, 2010.

Reik, Theodor, Myth and Guilt. The Crime and Punishment of Mankind (1957), London, Hutchinson & Co., 1958.

Renan, Ernest, Vie de Jésus, Paris, Michel Lévy Frères, 1863.

Ricouer, Paul, Du texte à l’action. Essais d’herméneutique II, Paris, Seuil, 1986.

Righter, William, “Myth and Interpretation”, New Literary History, 3.2, On Interpretation: I (Winter 1972): 319-44.

Russell, Ford, Northrop Frye on Myth (1998), New York – London, Routledge, 2000.

Saramago, José, O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo (1997), trad. it. Il Vangelo secondo Gesù Cristo, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2011.

Styler, Rebecca, Literary Theology by Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century, Farnham, Ashgate, 2010.

Wallace, Lew, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880), New York, Signet Classics, 2003.

Westphal, Bertrand, Roman et Évangile, Limoges, Presses Universitaires de Limoges, 2002.

Wright, Terry R., The Genesis of Fiction. Modern Novelists as Biblical Interpreters, Aldershot – Burlington, Ashgate, 2007.

Zahrnt, Heinz, Cominciò con Gesù di Nazaret. Il problema del Gesù storico, Brescia, Editrice Queriniana, 1975.

Zemka, Sue, Victorian Testaments. The Bible, Christology, and Literary Authority in Early-Nineteenth-Century British Culture, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1997.

Ziolkowski, Theodore, Fictional Transfigurations of Jesus, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1972.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/2209

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-18907

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


Between Journal is published by the University of Cagliari - Maintenance for this OJS installation is provided by UniCA  Open Journals, hosted by Sistema Bibliotecario di Ateneo.

Between Journal is published with the funding of the Bank of Sardinia Foundation.

ISSN 2039-6597

CC-By lockssDOAJ seal SPARC Europe