A View to a Cure: Narrative Quest and Healing Transformation in the Work of Reynolds Price Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 19, 2019
Creator
  • Bolt, Suzanne Shrell
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
Abstract
  • Reynolds Price is a writer of serious religious fiction whose unique evangelium reaches beyond orthodox Christianity for some of its deepest expressions. At the heart of his work is a line of radiant, threatened protagonists whom Price calls sacrificial people. . . .lambs in whose blood we bathe, whose blood we drink . . . in the sense of the god whom men kill and eat. And the nature of such physical and spiritual grace—its swift destruction and occasional, surprising redemption—is one of the most crucial, recurrent mysteries Price explores. As sinner, battler, victim, object of Grace, and vehicle of revelation, Price's central type surfaces memorably in characters such as Milo Mustian (A Generous Man), Todd Eborn (Love and Work), Rob Mayfield (A Great Circle), Neal Avery (New Music), Raphael Noren (The Tongues of Angels)—even Price's father, Will (Clear Pictures and the sketch Life for Life). Echoing the dynamics of Jesse Weston's core grail scene (with its ritualized gesture of identification, reconciliation, spiritual revelation, and healing), each narrative staging resembles a kind of passion play. Each embodies the spiritual dilemma of the wounded young Grail King and evinces what Emma Jung calls the dark aspect of the Divine, which wounds as prelude to blessing. Price's evolving narrative approach to these grand lost boy[s] traces the progress of his own quest for healing and virtue, mirroring the spiritual progress of grail knight toward wounded grail king. This study links and examines major manifestations of Price's privately minted archetype, exploring why such iconography flourishes—scattered, buried, but persistently emergent, entwined with the mystery of a central relation Price's work has explored from the first (and in every genre). Like the grail narratives, Price’s own testify to God's power and Grace, but also (with increasing fullness) to the emotional history and spiritual Quest of the grand lost boy, whose story implicitly demands witness and redemption (even within the tale). Price's search for the perspective from which to frame his healing narrative gesture is a key element of this study, which is in one sense a history of the search itself.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Flora, Joseph M.
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