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Shaping BeliefCulture, Politics, and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Writing$
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Victoria Morgan and Clare Williams

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781846311369

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315688

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Isaiah and Ezekiel – But What about Charley? An Essay on ‘Wanting to Believe’*

Isaiah and Ezekiel – But What about Charley? An Essay on ‘Wanting to Believe’*

(p.57) 4. Isaiah and Ezekiel – But What about Charley? An Essay on ‘Wanting to Believe’*
Shaping Belief
Philip Davis
Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the importance of belief in relation to the act of writing, focusing on George MacDonald's 1872 novel Wilfrid Cumbermede. It considers the problems brought about by wanting to have something to believe in, with particular emphasis on how the everyday individual, when situated within the destabilising context of an increasingly secularised age, encountered and struggled with religious belief in terms of a counter–productive paralysis. It shows how this articulation of ‘wanting to believe’ actually engendered a different form of belief. The chapter also analyses William James's philosophy of pragmatism and its importance for moving the nineteenth century out of and beyond its impasse of doubt with the reintroduction of the term ‘faith’.

Keywords:   George MacDonald, Wilfrid Cumbermede, religious belief, faith, writing, William James, pragmatism, paralysis

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