This book brings Christian theology, creative literature and literary critical theory into dialogue on the theme of "the end". Where appropriate it also considers recent scientific views on the nature of time.
'Postmodern' critical theorists and many other writers emphasize the 'open' nature of endings, but this book suggests that the mixture of openness and closure in Christian eschatology not only offers a coherent sense of an ending, but may make it possible to construct endings in the here and now. On the way to this conclusion the book provides an exegesis of novels, plays and poems by such writers as John Fowles, Julian Barnes, Doris Lessing, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Shakespeare. Among critical theorists, postmodern and otherwise, it considers especially the ideas of Frank Kermode, Northrop Frye, Jacques Derrida and Paul Ricoeur.
The author also examines the main themes of Christian eschatology - such as death, parousia, resurrection, human destiny and the nature of eternity - and offers a critical view of the doctrines of the last things produced by major modern theologians, including Jürgen Moltmann and Wolfhart Pannenberg. Through this dialogue the book aims to form an image of the eternal 'wholeness' of persons in the life of the triune God that takes seriously the deconstruction of images of domination.
Table of Contents
Part I: Facing the End:
1. The Problem of Closure: John Fowles' the French Lieutenant's Woman and Julian Barnes' Flaubert's Parrot.
2. Theology and Literature - A Dialogue.
3. The End Organizes the Human Story: Frank Kermode.
4. The End Discloses a Desired World: Northrop Frye.
5. Biblical Eschatology and Openness.
6. Closure and Openness in Ending.
Part II: Deferment and Hope:
7. The End Defers Meaning: Jacques Derrida.
8. Death and the Other.
9. Openness and Relativism.
10. The End Opens Hope: Paul Ricoeur.
11. Hope and a Passion for the Possible.
12. Hoping in the Face of Death.
Part III: Taking Death Seriously:
13. A Journey to Nothingness: Shakespeare's King Lear.
14. Human Surplus and Excess.
15. Images of a Desirable and Undesirable World.
16. The Configuring of Time.
17. Looking Upon Death.
18. Death the Last Enemy.
19. Creation from Nothing.
Part IV: A Question of Identity:
20. Resurrection and the Idea of Replication.
21. Problems About Identity.
22. Closing the Gap? A Modified Dualism.
23. The Person and the Finality of Death.
24. Survival and Relationships: Doris Lessing's Memoirs of A Survivor.
25. Corporate Resurrection.
26. The Identity of the Self: Lessing's the Making of the Representative for Planet 8.
27. The Making of the Person.
Part V: the Eternal Moment:
28. The Problem of Fragmentation By Time: T.S. Eliot's 'Ash Wednesday'.
29. The Problem of Isolation in Time: Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway.
30. Eliot and the Timeless Moment: the Four Quartets.
31. Eternity as Simultaneity?
32. The Healing of Time.
33. Woolf and the Symbols of Eternity: to the Lighthouse and Between the Acts.
Part VI: Expecting the Unexpected:
34. Two Parables of Waiting.
35. The Reversal of Expectations.
36. Two Plays of Waiting: Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Endgame.
37. The Futility of Waiting: (A) Waiting for the 'Not Yet'.
38. Waiting For a Possible Future.
39. The Futility of Waiting: (B) A Programmed Future.
Part VII: The Arrow of Time:
40. The One-Way Flight of the Arrow.
41. The Arrow Points Backwards: Martin Amis' Time's Arrow.
42. The Counter-Movement to Evolution.
43. Cycles of Torment and Renewal: Flann O'Brien's the Third Policeman and James Joyce's Finnegans Wake.
44. Preservation and Retroaction.
45. The Eternal Dance.
Part VIII: A Fuller Presence:
46. The Desire for Presence.
47. Millennium and Utopia.
48. Fictional Images of Utopia: Aldous Huxley's Island and Ursula Leguin's the Dispossessed.
49. The Postmodern Critique of Full Presence.
50. Absence at the Heart of Existence.
51. Theological Versions of Hidden Presence.
52. The Millennial Hope.
Part IX: Our Eternal Dwelling-Place:
53. Participating in Triune Relationships.
54. Dwelling in Triune Spaces.
55. Particularity and Eschatology.
56. The Eternal City.