Personal knowledge of suffering and the potency of words in George Mackay Brown's "The island of the women" and select stories from A time to keep.


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In this thesis, I analyze five short stories representative of George Mackay Brown’s engagement with the problem of suffering and the persistence of grace in the world. Tensions that arise include the prolific and the destructive impulses in man and nature as well as the words of formal expression and the silence reserved for those human thoughts, feelings, and divine mysteries beyond human articulation. These stories embody a way of human knowing grounded in persons, their narratives, and Incarnational hope. In the first chapter I analyze Brown’s portrayal of human communities and the disruptive effects of ritual violence through Rene Girard’s anthropological study of the Crucifixion, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning. I then move past this condemnation of violence toward Brown’s affirmative and Incarnational vision of the natural world. The divine “touch” in nature makes possible peaceable reciprocity in human community and the hope of redemptive suffering.



George Mackay Brown. Suffering.