26 October 2015

On Biblicalism, school of literary criticism

A preliminary overview

Jonnie Comet
26 October 2015

Biblicalism is the school of criticism devoted to the study of a work of literature as viewed through its deliberate or incidental relationship to a monotheistic belief system.

The criticism neither advocates nor condemns any particular religion or denomination but seeks to explicate a given literary from a Bible-based perspective, evaluating examples, both explicit and implied, within the work and drawing the effectiveness of the author’s presentation of Biblical themes through the work.

Many public-school and university instructors in literature neglect to consider such a viewpoint even though its relevance-- indeed, often, its primacy-- to the work is obvious. A prime example may be the novel Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, herself the daughter of an Anglican priest. The novel is, by design and in effect, a parable about the power of conscious, Christian virtue in overcoming temptation and in redeeming others. All of Jane’s decisions throughout the book are grounded in her own native faith; the reasons for her sufferings are grounded in the failure of others to observe such precepts as each of them have been taught by his or her own faith. The first-person narrator consistently uses Biblical references both to illustrate and to defend the principal concepts.

It can be contended that, neglecting an examination of conspicuous and vital Biblical principles, especially by instructors either unprepared intellectually or restricted by a comprehensive school’s repressive, secular agenda, no comprehension of the work as a whole can be fully realised. Biblicalism is an appropriate approach in the study of ostensibly secular works such as those of romanticism, naturalism, postmodernism and the gothic, especially as a means to uncover counter-concepts typically left unexplored in most literture courses as taught at comprehensive secondary schools and at state universities.


Good examples of English-language literature to which the criticism may be applied include:
  • Agnes Grey (Anne Brontë)
  • Pamela; or: Virtue Rewarded (Samuel Richardson)
  • Pamela; or; Virtue Reclaimed (Jonnie Comet)
  • Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift)
  • Oroonoko; or The Royal Slave (Aphra Behn)
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)
  • Maggie; Girl of the Streets (Stephen Crane)
  • ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ (Edgar Allan Poe)
  • The Italian (Anne Radcliffe)
  • Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)

For further reading, see

The Absolutist, online here

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12 August 2015

from Yahoo! Answers:

Books for teenagers are not works of art, they are products designed for a market. Discuss-?

It's all sexy vampires or glamorising suicide/death or spies (genre fiction, generally) to appeal to the stereotypical teenage brain and one series is much like another, all to get $$, movies etc.


Just because they are successful in the market, does not mean they were designed for it. It also does not mean the author only had money on their mind when they wrote it.

I'm sure some of them perhaps saw an opportunity, knew what the market needed (or what would sell), and wrote a book based on the success rate of others.

This however does not lessen the challenge that is writing a book. Regardless what an author decides to write about, it's not easy. It still takes time and determination with the knowledge that there could be no payout in the end anyways. Writing is art, regardless of the topic and whether or not certain individuals appreciate it.

Furthermore, this occurrence in which you see a huge fluctuation of similar novels being published around the same time after successful sales in that genre, are not limited to teen fiction. 

Jonnie Comet:

I'm going to agree with and disagree with Hazel's response. Just because they are successful in the market doesn't mean they were NOT designed for it. There's not much difference between a book being successful as literature and one being successful in the market. Personally I prefer the former; but maybe that's why I'm broke.

The philosophical definition of 'art' contains two major elements:
1. All art must be deliberate. It is done on purpose. Accidents are not art. Works of nature are not art. Art is what Man creates; Nature is what God creates. This is the classical Renaissance definition and, to those who are intellectually mature, this still stands up.

2. All art must make a statement. This is its purpose. It doesn't matter what the statement is, so long as it attempts to make a point about something-- really, anything. This is included in the twofold purpose of all literature and art-- 'to delight and instruct', or 'to educate and entertain'. As entertaining as all art is, it is merely a pretty picture or a chanted mantra without a purpose. Mere aesthetics is not art.

Now look at the teens' and children's books. Does the vampire story entertain you? Was it written deliberately (as opposed to by accident)? Does it have a message, attempting to make a point about something? No matter how banal, no matter if you disagree with it, no matter if you can't stand its style, genre, author's haircut or anything else, if it fulfils these basic criteria it is, essentially art. Taste isn't the issue-- purpose is.

Don't cloud the issue by contending it's designed to make money. There are many ways to make money. Making pipes makes money. Paving roads makes money. Reporting news makes money. None of these are art unless they fit the above definition. Literature that makes money is still literature. Maybe it's just distasteful literature.

(NO; journalism in its strictest, properest essence is only facts reporting. It is NOT 'art' per se.)

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from Yahoo! Answers:

What type of female characters aren't there enough of?

-- e.g., personality and appearance wise and what they can do. Are action-type female characters rare? What are cliches that need to be avoided? What would be a refreshing character?

Jonnie Comet:

In my opinion (as a novelist) I don't see enough of what I call the 'triple threat'. In fact I raised my daughters to be triple threats, and both truly are.

The triple threat has three distinct attributes: beauty, brains and virtue. The fascinating sociological context of this is that about 90% of men, whilst attracted to the triple threat, can't handle more than two of those attributes. Beautiful and virtuous, but stupid? --good. Virtuous and intelligent, but ugly? --they expect that. Beautiful and intelligent, but an utter trollop? --they'll take that (actually prefer it!).

As a novelist I tend to write these characters all the time. I began it, after writing plenty of rather normal (humanly flawed) female characters, with the teenaged au pair in Pamela, or Virtue Reclaimed. I had a (female) friend read it and she asked, 'Why did you make her so beautiful?'

I said, 'If she weren't beautiful, she would have no power.'  Men flock to Pamela, because she is beautiful. (She has a knockout figure in fact.) But once they learn the other two things about her-- she is very bright (genius IQ) and very committed to premarital chastity-- they can't cope. Since they can't deny her beauty (since men are all essentially visual), they attempt to take down her brains, by debating at length with her (the book is full of these arguments, many based on reality), usually about why she won't go to bed with them. In the end, of course, Pamela marries beyond her expectations-- and I won't reveal more than that.

I have sort of kept to this heroine type in Deirdre, the Wanderer, essentially a foil to Pamela. Deirdre messes up just about everything; but at least she keeps (most of) her virtue. She is rather normal in brains and appearance, which is to say she is much more in both than she believes she is. Another heroine, in a very different context, is Janine, a first-person narrator in a fantasy-world series. Janine is more beautiful than Deirdre, normal intellectually, and less virtuous; but she is still essentially unattainable unless the boy of her dreams rises to meet her on her pedestal.

Most of what I write is very old-fashioned-- even chivalric literature. But this is what isn't being done today, in film, TV or novels. Much of what we see or read today (Hunger Games, Revolution, Pretty Little Liars) may start out well but fades into banal normalcy. I think we need heroines who are sharp, witty, resourceful and chaste whilst still able to look and act like ladies in ALL situations. THIS is the kind of girl character that would make guys read the book.

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The Initiation of Janine

After a long wait (both by me and by some readers), this series is properly launched.  The novella The Initiaion of Janine is, if not the first ever, the first of the ‘A Tale of Two Paradises’ tales to be offered in both e-book and printed-book form.  It’s set in the fanciful world of the British Paradise Islands, a long-forgotten arm of the British Empire’, somewhere in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (west of the Galapagos, north of Easter Island, east of Tahiti, south of Hawaii.  You figure it out).

Janine is a sweet little girl, indubitably cute and rather ordinary except for a few standout attributes which she will tell you about in her narration.  She is young– only second form, at the start– but is appreciably intellectual and tends to be a little more mature than most of her friends, who really are the embodiment of normal’ girls in the BPI at this time.  They giggle and tease each other, play on swings (though they are too big’), visit the beach, shop, and look at or dream about boys.  They are also sweetly affectionate with each other, and– at least to (too) many Western minds– extraordinarily ladylike, even prudish.

Janine’s story is about how, by degrees, she gradually comes to balance her own native prudishness with the desires and needs of the mature young lady she is, perhaps too rapidly, becoming.  It’s worth noting that part of the magic of the Paradise Islands is that the standards for maturity are younger and more comprehensive than they are in England or in the ’States.  As it says in the Foreword:
As a vestige of the formerly indigenous Polynesian culture, the age of majority for most milestones is young; at fifteen a Paradisian citizen may marry, enter into labour or tenant contracts, leave school, or engage in consensual sexual relations.  Though precocious, this right of young people to initiate and conduct their natural lives on their own is inextricably conjoined to the unwavering sense of propriety as established and regulated by the British– for example, education and job training are comprehensive, there is little public-assistance for the able-bodied, and judicial penalties for abuse of decency statutes tend to be harsh and an adequate deterrent to transgression.  Therefore it is vital to not judge too quickly on appearances; or, if one does, he had best assume all is much saner, safer, more modest and more dignified than it seems at first glance.

For those who have read more of my work, the theme of the eager ingenue embarking, not entirely by choice, on a course of social enlightenment will seem familiar.  It’s a favourite because it reminds us of the sad inevitability that all innocence is fleeting; that, once lost, some degree of innocence is lost forever; that it is true that you can’t un-ring a bell so we'd better appreciate what we were like before we knew what it sounded like.  But there is also a great opportunity, even for the one undergoing such profound and irrevocable change, to consciously retain the most important elements of virtue.  Growing older does not mean losing all goodness; it merely means one must develop an independent sense of what’s wrong and what’s right and to conduct oneself with a responsibility to one’s self and to those who matter.  Janine’s story is the story of one who, having realised she may have flung herself ahead rather earlier than she may have liked, regains her self-control and self-respect and learns to conduct her own behaviour on her own (eminently respectable) terms.

I wrote in The Absolutist: Absence of commission or experience is not equal to virtue, which is the responsible and deliberate exercise and restraint of free will. ’  (http://jonniecometsabsolutist.blogspot.com/p/the-tenets-precepts-belonging-to-neo.html)

I always seem to come back to virtue as a principal theme in all my work.

For the curious, a preview is available.  This excerpt represents the first chapter of a ten-chapter work, somewhere about 11% of the total.  This should be sufficient to give an idea of the novel’s pacing, plot and character development, style and substance, as well as to introduce the unique story setting.  The paperback version of the book contains an addenda, edited by Colin and me, including footnotes for local ‘lingo’ and specific terms that won’t be familiar to people who don’t live in the BPI (which, if you think about it, is everyone in the real world!).

This is from someone else's book but it's funny.

A preview is available here– https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1175206

The paperback will be available shortly (mid-August-?).  The novella edition contains the glossed terms and the manga-styled artwork.

A ‘deluxe compilation’ is coming out as well; this contains The Initiation of Janine and also the next three episodes in Janine’s story, with addenda including glossed terms, maps, other documents and the artwork.  This shall be the model for further stories within the JOP and other ‘T2P’ story arcs: about 250-270 pages, amounting to four, five, maybe six separate but sequential episodes, with interesting add-ons such as maps, diagrams, lingo terms and cool (almost-saucy) artwork.

The Kindle e-text is available now  http://www.amazon.com/Initiation-Janine-Paradise-Form-20010107-ebook/dp/B002JCT1NE/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8  This contains endnotes (not glossed in the body of the text; you have to scroll back and forth, the only way Kindle allows one to publish it) but no maps and no artwork.
As ever I appreciate all relevant and considerate comments and look forward to seeing this get popular.  Now it’s all up to you! 

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