Question

This is about miss lonelyhearts Saint, Madman? When writing about...

This is about miss lonelyhearts


Saint, Madman? When writing about his character Miss Lonelyhearts, West once noted:

Miss Lonelyhearts became the portrait of a priest of our time who has a religious experience. His case is classical and is built on all the cases in [William] James' [note: a book written by Henry James's brother] Varieties of Religious Experience and Starbuck's Psychology of Religion. The psychology is theirs [James' and Starbuck's] and not mine. The imagery is mine. Chapter 1 - maladjustment. Chapter III- the need for taking symbols literally...Chapter IV - deadness and disorder, see lives of Bunyan and Tolstoy. Chapter VI - self torture by conscious sinning: see life of any saint. And so on.


The line between saint and madman can be a slim one. What is West saying about the religious experience? Why might saints be perceived as "mad," especially in modern society? Religious writers, such as Flannery O'Connor, as well as theologians have found West compelling. Why might that be even though he was essentially an atheist?

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