Beyond the Story

American Literary Fiction and the Limits of Materialism

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Christina Bieber Lake
  • Notre Dame, IN: 
    University of Notre Dame Press
    , October
     212 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Beyond the Story: American Literary Fiction and the Limits of Materialism argues that theology is crucial to understanding the power of contemporary American stories. By drawing on the theories of M. M. Bakhtin, Christian personalism, and contemporary phenomenology, Lake argues that literary fiction activates an irreducibly personal intersubjectivity between author, reader, and characters. Stories depend on a dignity-granting valuation of the particular lives of ordinary people, which is best described as an act of love that mirrors the love of the divine. Through original readings of the fiction of Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, Lydia Davis, Toni Morrison, and others, Lake enters into a dialogue with postsecular theory and cognitive literary studies to reveal the limits of sociobiology's approach to culture. The result is a book that will remind readers how storytelling continually reaffirms the transcendent value of human beings in an inherently personal cosmos. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of theology and literary studies, as well as a broad audience of readers seeking to engage on a deeper level with contemporary literature.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Christina Bieber Lake is Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College.


Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.