The Heart Could Never Speak

Existentialism and Faith in a Poem of Edwin Muir

By George Pattison

The Heart Could Never Speak

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  • ISBN: 9781620328187
  • Pages: 114
  • Publication Date: 6/25/2013
  • Retail Price: $16.00
Web Price: $12.80
Web Price: $12.80

The Heart Could Never Speak

Existentialism and Faith in a Poem of Edwin Muir

By George Pattison

paperback-logo

PAPERBACK

  • ISBN: 9781620328187
  • Pages: 114
  • Publication Date: 6/25/2013
  • Retail Price: $16.00
Web Price: $12.80

About-

The book offers an interpretation of a posthumously published poem by Edwin Muir (1887-1959), beginning "The heart could never speak / But that the Word was spoken." The poem is read as summing up Muir's lifelong struggle with fundamental questions about the meaning of existence, questions often developed in dialogue with such figures as Nietzsche, Holderlin, and Kafka. These references allow us to bring Muir into conversation with modern existentialist philosophy and theology, and Muir's poetic thought is seen as both illuminating and as illuminated by such existentialist thinkers as Heidegger, Bultmann, Kierkegaard, and Berdyaev. Themes such as death, time, love, the nature of language, and the alienation brought about by technological mass society, and the threat of nuclear catastrophe are central to the poem's subject-matter and are dealt with by Muir in such a way as to make possible a Christian version of existentialist thought. The perennial nature of such questions in modern society makes the poem as relevant to contemporary issues in religious thought today as when it was written. For all its simplicity, it is the argument of the book that it makes an abiding contribution to human self-understanding.

Endorsements & Reviews-

"This fine and original book offers a conversation between poetry and philosophy that succeeds . . . in being both a rigorous analysis and a deeply moving meditation. Sensitive to the poetic text and learned in the existential philosophy of modernity, the author unveils a 'heart' to which poets, philosophers, and theologians bear witness, a heart speaking of love, broken in time, and resurrected by human art and divine word."
--Paul S. Fiddes, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford

"There are many ways to read a poem and some of them allow a poem to read us. This beautiful short meditation on a late poem by Edwin Muir is rooted in a lifetime's scholarship in Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and existentialist thought. . . . Written with clarity yet moving and profound, this engagement with one poem explores the nature of faith in our technological world, yet a world that still breathes with the wonder of poetry and faith."
--David Jasper, Professor of Literature and Theology, University of Glasgow and Renmin University of China

"In the spirit of Augustine and Merton, Kierkegaard and the later Heidegger, Pattison takes us on a profound poetic journey--his own edifying discourse. Muir, and his one poem, are not just read closely: under the winds of Christian contemplation and existential experience, they become part of a richly expansive landscape of poetry, theology, and philosophy, one open to all travelers interested in the maneuverings of the heart."
--Andrew W. Hass, Lecturer in Religion, University of Stirling

"George Pattison has an acute ear for 'the language of the heart,' and in this terrific new study he explores the complex connections between emotion, time, and grace with admirable precision. His focus on a single poem is a rare example of attentive, patient, and close reading, and, like all stimulating theology, it opens a door to new perspectives on shared reality."
--Andrew Tate, Senior Lecturer in English, Lancaster University

Contributors-

George Pattison

Bio(s)-

George Pattison is Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford. He is the author of many books on theology and philosophy of religion, including works on Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and the visual arts.

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