John Neary indicates that the theological dichotomy of via negativa (which posits the genuine event of God as absence, darkness, silence) and via affirmativa (which emphasizes presence, photographs, and the sounds of the earth) is an neglected key to interpreting and evaluating the works of John Fowles and John Updike.
Drawing on his huge wisdom of either Christian and secular existentialism in the smooth theology of Barth and Levinas and the modern serious idea of Derrida and J. Hillis Miller, Neary demonstrates the final word affinity of those authors who in the beginning look such opposites. He makes transparent that Fowles’s postmodernist, metafictional experiments replicate the stark existentialism of Camus and Sartre whereas Updike’s social realism remembers Kierkegaard’s empirical religion in a beneficiant God inside a type of Christian deconstructionism.
Neary’s notion of uncanny similarities among the 2 authors—whose respective careers are marked via a chain of novels that structurally and thematically parallel each one other—and the authors’ shared long term curiosity in existentialism and theology help either his serious comparability and his argument that neither writer is "philosophically extra subtle nor aesthetically extra daring."
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