Literature and the “Prophetic Voice”


J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    There’s always next year for grad school applications. I think it’s a fascinating line of inquiry because I can hear the prophetic voice in certain prose, but am not sure if the fictionalizing urge wouldn’t mediate against delivering prophecy. Could there be prophetic sociology? I can think of a few sociologists who moved towards becoming holy scourges, if not prophets.Report

  2. Avatar J.S. says:

    You make an excellent point that is well worth pursuing, especially since the broader social imaginary that would be implicit in a prophetic voice could offer some vital challenges to much of the cold, narrow secularism of late modernity.

    In that light, however, I do think some of Bellow’s vision is aligned–albeit in a distinctly modern way–with that of the prophets. Herzog is the best example, but I think you could explore it in all his stuff. I don’t remember the exact quote, but Bellow noted that Herzog is something of a “negative Bildungsroman” who must unlearn everything to truly appreciate the meaningful things in life. Something, I think, in Bellow’s “unlearning” of the dehumanizing aspects of modernity may echo the calls of the prophets.Report