Monday, January 21, 2008

Gilead


Marilynne Robinson's Gilead is by far the most profound and truly edifying piece of fiction I have read for a very, very long time. Robinson's novel, to my mind, is comparable in spiritual depth to anything written by Chekhov, Flannery O'Conner, or C. S. Lewis. It is also the first novel I have read whose hero is a genuinely good person (something that no less an author than Dostoevsky was unable to accomplish). While a novel of genuine religiosity, there is nothing sanctimonious, saccharine, or sentimental about it. It, in fact, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005 -- which, given its explicitly Christian nature, really rather surprises me. The theology can be a bit Calvinist at times (the protagonist's main theological influences are Calvin and Barth, with Feurbach as his foil), but none of this distracts from the book's profundity. It is, in O'Conner's words, both unexpected and believable.

I hope to write more about this extraordinary book in the near future, and I would love to hear from others who have read it.

2 comments:

A. Noël said...

I have not read it, but I bought it some time ago, and it's in the to-read stack; I shall shuffle it up to the top, now. Thank you for the post!

Maximus Daniel said...

I must also move this book forward on my must reads.