On page xiv of the introduction,James Wood blames the novel for "killing Jesus' divinity." What is the justification for this statement? If the novel is to blame for "killing Jesus' divinity",why then the essays on Sir Thomas More and Shakespeare? I think science had far more to do with the questioning of religious belief in 18th and 19th Century Europe than literature.

Expert Answers

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There is an excellent overview of James Wood and his criticism here on eNotes at the link below. You will see that Wood believes that science AND literature have affected religious beliefs. In this collection of critical essays, Wood mostly tears apart writers from Herman Melville (calling him a God-involved novelist) to Toni Morrison, whose characters he claims are not free and not individualistic. As a critic, Wood is very learned and he has incredible knowledge about such a wide, wide range of literature, but I happen to disagree vehemently with almost everything he has written in this collection. One need not agree with a person, however, to admire a person's talent. It has been my observation that all of the enduring literature has at its core some sort of religious questioning, religious morality, or religious world view. These themes are basic to humanity. We all want good to conquer evil. We all want the good guys to win.

By saying that the novel has killed Jesus' divinity, Wood means that in literature, Jesus is just another character, not the son of God. I don't believe this is true either. So many great characters in literature are Christ figures. Again, it is a motif that occurs over and over and over, and in great literature, despite whether James Wood thinks novels like Moby Dick are great or not. That's just my view. I'm sure there are others that would disagree.

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