Download Angels of Modernism: Religion, Culture, Aesthetics 1910–1960 by Suzanne Hobson (auth.) PDF

By Suzanne Hobson (auth.)

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Additional info for Angels of Modernism: Religion, Culture, Aesthetics 1910–1960

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On the contrary, the angel’s religious meanings are pressed into the service of those who demand more immediate and urgent freedoms: the preservation of an independent English church from the perceived threat of continental scepticism on one side and popery and superstition on the other; the emancipation of women; and, finally, in Benjamin’s more complex formulation, freedom from an illusory promise of change that does nothing but keep everything the same. The problem with reading the angel’s entry into history as a purely secularizing translation is that it leaves this figure hamstrung, condemned to a melancholy that repeats the melancholy attributed to modernist texts themselves when they contemplate life without God.

S family had arrived in America in the eighteenth century with members of the Moravian Brethren [Unitas Fratrum], a Pietist group founded by Count Zizendorf in Saxony. 98 As part of their daily routine, the Brethren performed hourly intercessions and once a year on Christmas Eve they participated in a Candle Service. D. ’s own poetry and fiction the connection between Moravian liturgy and older forms of angel worship is restored and redeemed as part of an original ‘unified’ faith once guarded by the Brethren but now lost to the world.

The wings of angels, she remarks, are symbolic, signifying the ethereal nature of the angel’s body, while the wings of the fairy are ‘meant for flight’ and are an imaginative response to the new technologies of flight. Bown adds that while angels in paintings by the likes of Rossetti, and BurneJones are invariably static, fairies are ordinarily depicted in mid-air. 113 Modernism appears to make few such concessions to the scientific mind; angels are often seen in flight and fairies, in so far as they are present at all, are less often a response to scientific developments than they are a return to pre-Christian, often Celtic sources.

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