By Assistant Professor John Neary B.A. M.A. Ph.D.
John Neary exhibits that the theological dichotomy of through negativa (which posits the actual adventure of God as absence, darkness, silence) and through affirmativa (which emphasizes presence, pictures, and the sounds of the earth) is an neglected key to reading and evaluating the works of John Fowles and John Updike.Drawing on his broad wisdom of either Christian and secular existentialism in the glossy theology of Barth and Levinas and the modern severe thought of Derrida and J. Hillis Miller, Neary demonstrates the last word affinity of those authors who in the beginning look such opposites. He makes transparent that Fowles’s postmodernist, metafictional experiments replicate the stark existentialism of Camus and Sartre whereas Updike’s social realism recollects Kierkegaard’s empirical religion in a beneficiant God inside one of those Christian deconstructionism.Neary’s conception of uncanny similarities among the 2 authors—whose respective careers are marked by means of a chain of novels that structurally and thematically parallel every one other—and the authors’ shared long term curiosity in existentialism and theology help either his severe comparability and his argument that neither writer is "philosophically extra refined nor aesthetically extra daring."
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Extra info for Something and Nothingness: The Fiction of John Updike and John Fowles
Clegg's inarticulateness (the best word he can find to describe the night is "funny") and his prudishness qualities that most critics use simply to debase him to that catego- Page 19 ry of the Many actually give this passage its poignancy. And they lead us, as Clegg proceeds to make one of his longest speeches, to believe that his declaration of his own emotional depth is, if twisted, valid and even admirable: You wouldn't believe me if I told you I was very happy, would you, I said. Of course she couldn't answer.
Clegg's most ambiguous nickname, however, is not Ferdinand but Caliban, though on the surface its significance may seem to be spelled out quite straightforwardly within the text. It is Miranda who gives Clegg this name, and in her own mind it is not ambiguous at all; it simply indicates her contemptuous feeling of superiority to Clegg. She decides to rename him after complaining about his abominable taste: I couldn't stand the orangeady carpet any more and he's brought me some Indian and Turkish rugs.
I knew," she tells us, "it was silly as I was saying it. Fey" (174). She refuses to let the game stop, though, and she asks Clegg to reciprocate by telling another fairy story. His response is as succinct as it could be: "He just said, I love you'' (174). It is impossible not to realize that Clegg reveals a good deal more integrity here than Miranda does. Miranda herself is made to admit that "yes, he had more dignity than I did then and I felt small, mean" (17475); she even acknowledges that a "most peculiar closeness" has developed between them (175).