Literature and the “Prophetic Voice”


J.L. Wall

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

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar Rufus F.

    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.

    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

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