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The Walker Percy Project

Impossible to Say: Representing Religious Mystery in Fiction by Malamud, Percy, Ozick, and O'Connor


L. Lamar Nisly

— Links the Jewish fiction of Malamud and Ozick with the Catholic fiction of Percy and O'Connor to study the representation of religious mystery in works by these authors

Although Judaism and Catholicism have important differences, both religions contain elements of religious mystery, aspects of belief that transcend the rational. This book studies how Jewish and Catholic practices of giving structure to religious mystery are embodied in the works of Bernard Malamud, Walker Percy, Cynthia Ozick, and Flannery O'Connor. The volume links Malamud with Percy and Ozick with O'Connor because these authors depict religious mystery in similar ways. Percy and Malamud use the quest form to give shape to mystery, while O'Connor and Ozick use the grotesque and fantastic to evoke the numinous. Whether presenting a movement toward mystery or serving to evoke it, these four authors explore an ineffable dimension that readers need to sense in order to gain a better understanding of their works.

L. Lamar Nisly is Associate Professor of English at Bluffton College. He has published in such journals as Studies in American Jewish Literature and Journal for Peace and Justice Studies.

Publication Date: June 30, 2002