On religion and literature: Truth, beauty, and the good

Vittorio Montemaggi, Regina M Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

In this essay, we explore the convergence between religion and literature by reflecting on the inextricable relationship between the good, the true, and the beautiful. We propose that reflecting on this trio can help us see more clearly what the value might be of bringing "religion" and "literature" together and that, at the same time, the coming together of "religion" and "literature" can help us see more clearly what the value might be of thinking about the good, the true, and the beautiful as inextricably related. Methodologically, therefore, we suggest that to speak about the relationship between religion and literature is not simply to speak of a common ground between them; it is also to be open to the possibility that our conception of such common ground might be transformed by the light shed on it by the encounter of religion and literature itself. The essay focuses, in particular, on the Hebrew Bible, Dante's Comedy, Shakespeare's King Lear, and Primo Levi's If This Is A Man. Through readings of select passages from these works, we suggest that the encounter between religion and literature, illuminated by and illuminating the inextricable relationship between truth, beauty, and goodness, can significantly contribute to awakening us to the fact that our vision and understanding are limited if not contextualized by our concrete nourishing of justice through compassionate human relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-128
Number of pages18
JournalReligion and Literature
Volume46
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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