Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gary Sloan & "The Liberator" articles

The web site The Liberator is all over the place and has no specific politics. It claims to support free speech and oppose political correctness. Many of its articles are on freethought topics.

The most interesting articles are by English professor emeritus Gary Sloan. I will point out just a few for now.

I mentioned Shelley: Angelic Atheist (October 13, 2003) in my last post on Percy Bysshe Shelley, and The Book of Job and J.B.: Faith vs. Reason in a recent post.

Note Sloan's article on "Moby Dick" (November 14, 2001).

Sloan portrays Melville as viscerally anti-Christian. Melville eschews rosy optimism and prospects for amelioration, thinking not only man evil but God too. Sloan sees Melville as covertly in sympathy with Ahab. Whale-talk is allegorical god-talk. Sloan concludes:
After Moby Dick, Melville began to slough off the neo-Calvinism and slither toward agnosticism. Still, a part of him always longed for the custodial Papa Above of his boyhood.
This is not exactly profound or thorough analysis, but I think in its simplicity it captures a sizable chunk of Melville's motivation.

As it turns out, I've encountered Sloan before on the subject. He published an article in the Summer 2002 (Volume 22, No. 3) issue of Free Inquiry. I responded with an unpublished letter to the editor:

FEEDBACK: Melville the "Atheist"

For many years, I've had mixed feelings about George Bernard Shaw, his affinity for crackpot ideas and his ruining his realistic outlook with mysticism. I never examined the evolution of Shaw's perspective, though. Sloan's review is therefore useful:

George Bernard Shaw: Mystic or Atheist?

Check out the other articles on literary figures.

No comments: