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Sir John Betjeman was one of the twentieth century's great makers of the Christian imagination. He was maybe the most significant literary figure of our time to declare his Christian faith and his terror of dying. Betjeman used his formidable gifts for poetry to show us how to think about the Anglican faith and about Englishness, and Christianity in general. Here is an anthology of about 75 poems on religious themes, with clarifying footnotes and a critical introduction that offers an overview of his life and poetry, as well as a commentary on some of his more difficult poems. The book is directed at three main audiences: poetry readers unfamiliar with Betjeman and his faith, readers interested in literature from a Christian perspective (C.S.Lewis or George Herbert) and, more narrowly, Christians who may be interested in discovering poetry that explores their faith. Betjeman's poetry has and continues to sell extremely well (Between two and three million copies of his Collected Poems). Here is a new perspective on Betjeman's life and beliefs.
This new edition of Betjeman's religious poetry will demonstrate that Betjeman is the great poet of the Church in the twentieth century; it will also introduce delightful, accessible and important poetry to new readers who have not read much of his work. It will suggest to both British and American readers ways of thinking about spiritual, cultural and ecclesiastical matters as well as about the intersection of literature and art.
Table of Contents
Introduction; 1. On Spiritual Doubts and Fears; 2. On Death; 3. On Belief; 4. On the Church's Social and Spiritual Roles; 5. On Vanity and Hypocrisy; 6. On Cultural Decline and Despair; 7. On Non-Anglican Faiths
Kevin Gardner is Professor of English Literature at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is now writing a scholarly monograph on Betjeman's Christian imagination.