Words Made Fresh: Essays on Literature and Culture - eBook  -     By: Larry Woiwode
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Words Made Fresh: Essays on Literature and Culture - eBook

Crossway / 2011 / ePub

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Product Description

Woiwode, an award-winning Christian author and the poet laureate of North Dakota, ruminates on the translation of Scripture; the place of religion in education; how Updike's fiction is indebted to the theology of Kierkegaard and Barth; the difference between news as delivered by CNN and Bob Dylan, and other culture-makers. His essays offer a collection of insightful and provocative commentaries on literature and American culture.

Product Information

Format: DRM Free ePub
Vendor: Crossway
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 9781433527432
ISBN-13: 9781433527432
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Larry Woiwode frames this new collection of essays in the language of the incarnation, the event that shows "how a metaphor of words could contain the lineaments and inner workings of a human being." The essays that follow do just that. Through the medium of literary analysis, cultural reflection, and personal memory, they trace Woiwode’s work and thought as well as that of the vivid human beings he depicts.  

These essays, all revised and reworked since their original publication, include reflections on Scripture translation, the place of religion in education, how John Updike’s work reflects the theology of Søren Kierkegaard and Karl Barth, and the difference between the news as delivered by CNN and Bob Dylan. Woiwode ranges over these topics with deliberate thoughtfulness, a Christian engaged with the wounds and gifts of the world. He also does so with the care of a writer for whom "the Word is home." The shape of that Word sets the pattern for what he has written here: not "a set of rules to regulate social behavior," but "an ordering of stories . . . with glimpses into character."  

Publisher's Weekly

In these newly revised essays, award-winning author Woiwode (What I Think I Did) journeys through topics near and dear to his heart: home and place, Shakespeare and Updike, Bob Dylan and CNN. He illuminates his essays with a Christian perspective, which argues that as we become culturally disconnected from our scriptural heritage, "the verve and excitement of discovery" evaporates from language. Woiwode works to infuse life back into words, finding the sacred in Updike's conviction that the truth can't shock God, in the stricken eyes of a dying deer. Woiwode believes in the incarnational value of story, and his essays, filled with recollections, offer the enjoyment of eavesdropping on the conversations of a man who has lived richly for the past 50 years. Readers might wish for more than a scant five pages on Reynolds Price, fewer on Updike, but the essays on Wendell Berry, on Woiwode's North Dakota home, and on Shakespeare satisfy without overdoing. Despite some unevenness, Woiwode's skill with and love of both words and the Word infuse these pages. (July) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

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  1. St. Charles, MO
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    On Literature and Culture
    August 31, 2011
    St. Charles, MO
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Words made Fresh: Essays on Literature and Culture by Larry Woiwode

    Although not being familiar with Woiwode's works of fiction nor his essays, this book was a welcome treat to read. First, in this collection of essays, we see Woiwode's keen eye for the details of literature in the likes of both Wendell Berry and John Updike. In the chapter on Wendell Berry, Woiwode comments that "The heat of indignation rises through his prose, but finally the prose is able to remain irenic" (41). Woiwode is here capturing Berry's aggravation at a government who takes great care to dismantle the wilderness to create human ‘lesiure areas.' There is an eloquent sensitivity in the way Woiwode approaches the writing of Wendell Berry, taking into account his grand vision of nature and God's good creation while entering into Berry's continual frustration with the way land is handled by larger corporations and entities. You feel when reading this chapter on Berry that Woiwode has carefully memorized and selected the very best of his thought and distilled the meaning in language that is both accessible and enjoyable to read.

    Secondly, you get a real sense at the way a writer like John Updike has affected the life of Woiwode. Woiwode writes, "In the spring of 1964, when I was twenty two and living in a rented room in New York City, I read my first Updike novel, The Centaur_..but I can, a la Proust, recapture the dimensional sparkle that rose from the objects of that dingy room as I descended upon Updike's prose" (86). Like a famished peasant coming upon a steak dinner, Woiwode describes his encounter with Updike as being a sensory experience, enlightening the things all around him. I resonate with his writing here as one who was first struck with the complexity and prophetic nature of Orwell's 1984, coming face to face with the consequences of a Big Brother in the lives of others. As Woiwode's continues his discussion of Updike's couples he links Updike's writing in the Couples with that of neo-orthodox thinking, particularly of the likes of Karl Barth. A God that Updike describes here as being so transcendent as being unreachable. This point was rather remarkable to note since we don't find the moorings of very many theological systems played out in the work of fiction.

    Overall, I thought this work was very good, from the personal(Guns and Peace, Woiwode retells the story of his shooting a deer) to the unique and sometimes persuasive essay (Deconstructing God) about the public school system in American being overtaken by the virus like effects of the secularization of religion spilling into the humanities (129). The book is filled with interesting quotes from authors and a keen eye in critical thinking. I think this book goes a long way in supporting the thesis that critical review can be done well, without the garbage of over analysis to favor the presuppositions of the reviewer. Woiwode is to be commended for his insight and investigation to not only literature but the philosophy and underpinnings of literature in connection with belief.

    Much thanks to Crossway for the review copy of this work.
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