The Prophetic Vision of Beauty: The Ethical Intersection of Literature and Theological Aesthetics

Katharine Bubel

Abstract


In his 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature lecture, Russian author Alexandr Solzhenitsyn asserted that the famous utterance of Dostoyevsky’s Prince Myshkin, “Beauty will save the world,” was not the issue of vain hope or foolish romanticism, but rather “prophecy.” Th is paper will investigate the way in which Solzhenitsyn’s ethical claim concerning literature intersects with theological aesthetics, especially in the latter’s assertion that beauty must be recovered from its decline beneath the amorphous sublime and re-associated with the good and true. Solzhenitsyn’s challenge was primarily addressed to the global community of authors, calling them to off er a collective moral “fi eld of vision” for humanity through their literary art. I will locate the ethical import of this literary “field of vision” in its relation to self-knowledge, and then explore theological aesthetics’ claim that the identity of the human being is revealed, judged and affi rmed in an encounter with the beauty of Christ.

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ISSN (Print): 1705-2947
ISSN (Online): 1712-5634