In "Secularization without End: Beckett, Mann, Coetzee," Vincent P. Pecora elaborates an alternative history of the twentieth-century Western novel that explains the resurgence of Christian theological ideas. Standard accounts of secularization in the novel assume the gradual disappearance of religious themes through processes typically described as rationalization: philosophy and science replace faith. Pecora shows, however, that in the modern novels he examines, "secularization" ceases to mean emancipation from the prescientific ignorance or enchantment commonly associated with belief and signifies instead the shameful state of a humanity bereft of grace and undeserving of redemption. His book focuses on the unpredictable and paradoxical rediscovery of theological perspectives in otherwise secular novels after 1945. The narratives he analyzes are all seemingly godless in their overt points of view, from Samuel Beckett's" Murphy "to Thomas Mann's" Doktor Faustus" to J. M. Coetzee's "The Childhood of Jesus." But, Pecora argues, these novels wind up producing varieties of religious doctrine drawn from Augustinian and Calvinist claims about primordial guilt and the impotence of human will. In the most artfully imaginative ways possible, Beckett, Mann, and Coetzee resist the apparently inevitable plot that so many others have constructed for the history of the novel, by which human existence is reduced to mundane and meaningless routines and nothing more. Instead, their writing invokes a religious past that turns secular modernity, and the novel itself, inside out. ""Secularization without End" is a well-argued and provocative exploration of the modern novel grounded in a compelling set of theological reflections. Vincent P. Pecora discusses primarily Samuel Beckett's trilogy (1950), Thomas Mann's "Dr. Faustus" (1947), and various novels by J. M. Coetzee from the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. This is not just a set of three individual-author essays; it is about an alternative history of the novel that challenges the paradigms that have prevailed from Watt to Moretti." --Russell Berman, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University
Secularization Without End by Vincent P. Pecora was published by University of Notre Dame Press in March 2015. The ISBN for Secularization Without End is 9780268038991.