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An Atheist’s Spirituality: Jim Crace’s Post-Religious Fiction

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Publication date2018
Host publicationJim Crace: Into the Wilderness
EditorsKaty Shaw, Kate Aughterson
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783319940939
ISBN (Print)9783319940922
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Jim Crace’s fiction has a complex relationship with the broad and unstable phenomenon of ‘religion’. Although self-described as an ‘atheist’, religious language and practices haunt many of his novels and his fiction abounds with moments of unreason. Crace is a realist informed by romance, a master of suspicion who occasionally tempts sceptical readers to trust fables. Tate explores the ways in which religious acts—prayer, the language of miracle, prophecy, and pilgrimage—punctuate a body of work that scrupulously resists the numinous. This chapter argues that Crace’s critique—both of orthodox belief and, tacitly, of contemporary culture’s denial of the reality of death and suffering—places his work in a wider tradition of post-religious wrestling with finitude and ritualised mourning.