The sign of the ineffable in twentieth century literature.


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This study establishes a critical foundation for understanding the unique sacramental dynamic inherent to literature and to narrative art more generally, demonstrating how Derrida’s deconstructive method leaves room for the particular species of referentiality claimed by the Catholic sacraments—which are said to “accomplish what they signify”—and how imaginative literature operates in the same space semiotically. The work continues by examining novels by four writers (Hemingway, Faulkner, Woolf, and McCarthy), and describing how their works affirm the need for this sort of “sacramental grammar of grace” for the transmission of their most deeply epiphanic moments. What results is a way of understanding the continued power of story long after faith in the power of signification has faded.



Sacrament. Literature. Hemingway. Faulkner. Woolf. McCarthy. Derrida.