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Mystic Moderns


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Agencies and Innovations Chapter One: Considering the New: "modern," "modernity," and "modernism" Part One: Evelyn Underhill's Heroic Mysticism Chapter Two: Mystic Modes: Living, Dying, Knowing Chapter Three: Catholic Aesthetics and Medieval Modernity Chapter Four: Magics and Mysticisms: Finding a New Orthodoxy Chapter Five: The Heroic Individual on the Mystic Way Chapter Six: Gender, Class, and Mysticism Part Two: May Sinclair's Erotic Mysticism Chapter Seven: Language and the Lure of Idealism Chapter Eight: Deepest Desires: Embracing Erotic Mysticism Chapter Nine: Maintaining Control: Will and the Boundaries of Self Chapter Ten: Evolution's Promise: Consciousness, Species, Religion Chapter Eleven: Modernity, War, and Death: Mystic Responses Chapter Twelve: Meeting the Dead: Ghost Stories for Moderns Part Three: Mary Webb's Mysticism of Nature Chapter Thirteen: Country Living: Tales of Old and New Chapter Fourteen: Agency and Choice: Romanticism, Mysticism, Capitalism Chapter Fifteen: Acting Naturally: Christianity, Sexuality, Agency Chapter Sixteen: Other Ways to Think?: The Puzzle of a Medieval Turn Conclusion: Connections and Crossings

About the Author

James H. Thrall is a Knight Distinguished associate professor at Knox College.


In the novels of three early twentieth century English women writers-Evelyn Underhill, May Sinclair and Mary Webb-Thrall finds similarities and divergences in their various attempts to refute the notion that mysticism has no place in secular and rational modernity. Underhill defends a heroic mysticism, and Sinclair and Webb an erotic and natural mysticism, respectively. As such, they are pioneers of a "New Mysticism." All three focus on the authority of individual experience, the importance of psychology, the primacy of the life force, and the necessity of ethical purpose. Thrall is ploughing new terrain, the fruit of which will be of interest to historians, biographers, scholars of religious thought and of gender studies. Thrall's deep research and clear and accessible writing make Mystic Moderns an important and provocative contribution. -- Dana Greene, Dean Emerita of Oxford College of Emory University

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