The Agnostic Musings of African American Popular Novelist Frank Garvin Yerby.
Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, 2008, Summer
Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table
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Born and reared in Augusta Georgia, the heart of the Bible Belt in the American South, Frank Garvin Yerby began his literary career writing black protest fiction in the tradition of Richard Wright, and like many of his contemporaries, he demonstrated conventional religious thought in his early fiction. In the 1940s, however, Yerby abruptly switched from protest to popular fiction. In this historic transition, Yerby modified his protest aim and artistic consciousness, becoming one of America's most avid debunkers of history and myth. Concurrently, with the cumulative effects of his personal experiences as an African American, especially in the South, undergirded by his prodigious research of the history of cultures across the world, Yerby began questioning conventional religious beliefs in his anti-heroic popular novels; and in fact, he actually developed philosophical assumptions and beliefs that counter Christian theology. Through an examination of general references to religion in Yerby's fiction and a close reading of two of his most important novels, An Odor of Sanctity and Judas, My Brother^ this presentation analyzes Yerby's agnosticism and his philosophical assumptions and beliefs. A novel about ancient Spain, Yerby's adopted country, An Odor of Sanctity presents the familiar literary prototype of the Christ figure. The protagonist of the novel, Alaric Teudisson, is a picaresque saint who underscores Yerby's messages that saints are not fanatics who disavow all religions other than their own and that man's godliness is the love he shows for his fellowman and the compassion he develops out of his own suffering. Judas, My Brother, on the other hand, continues the philosophical investigations prevalent in Yerby's earlier novels. Using the fictional technique of contrasting characters, Yerby portrays the lives of two characters, the Prophet Jesus and his counterpart Nathan. Written to demythologize the origins of Christianity, Judas, My Brother documents evens and details of history that Yerby considers contrary to the popular conceptions of Christianity; and included in this novel are twenty-eight pages of footnotes to substantiate Yerby's agnosticism and philosophical claims.
- Category: Law
- Published: Jun 22, 2008
- Publisher: Forum on Public Policy
- Seller: The Gale Group, Inc.
- Print Length: 18 Pages
- Language: English