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Living in the End Time: Ecstasy and Apocalypse in the Work of H.D. and Janette Turner Hospital

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2016

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Despite the current preoccupation with globalisation, literary criticism remains heavily focused on national cultures. In the context of Australian literature, comparisons are regularly made with the literatures of other British Commonwealth nations, but surprisingly infrequently with that of Britain's first and most successful colony, the United States. This article explores thematic and cultural connections between the work of American-born modernist poet and novelist H.D. (1886–1961) and the Australian-born postmodern novelist Janette Turner Hospital (born 1942). It suggests that the transnational phenomenon of ecstatic Protestantism, which originated in northern Europe and was disseminated widely around the globe along the channels of commerce and colonisation, has been a key influence in shaping the literary imaginations of these writers. Indeed, Protestantism – far from being a spent or reactive force – continues to generate new forms of modernity as its emphasis on transformation is exported from somewhat inward-looking religious communities into broader cultural domains.

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2 Moravianism traces its roots back to Jan Hus and sometimes beyond. A group of Brethren formed in Bohemia in 1457 had attracted widespread support of the population by the middle of the sixteenth century, but was forced underground after the Thirty Years’ War. In 1772, a small group of Brethren from Moravia were given refuge on the Saxon estate of the pietist Count Nikolaus von Zinzendorf. Under Zinzendorf's leadership, Moravianism became a significant transnational religious movement. For the impact of Moravianism on John Wesley, see John Telford, The Life of John Wesley (New York: Hunt & Eaton and Cincinnati: Cranston & Curtis, n.d.), 77–80. Wesley was attracted by the deep faith of the Moravians, and by the religion's emphasis on the transformation of the emotional life of the believer.Google Scholar

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