Trying to say what was true': language, divinity, difference in marilynne robinson's gilead
Ploeg, A. J.
Journal of Language, Literature and Culture
2 - 15
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Marilynne Robinson's Gilead is the journal of elderly minister John Ames, written to the seven-year-old son that he knows he will never live to see grow up. Though quite traditional in his conception of God, Ames nevertheless embraces progressive and even atheistic ideas regarding the divine. This article contends that Gilead resists being read strictly as an exploration of language's failure to express the transcendence of divinity, or, conversely, solely as an articulation of language's cryptic capacity to enact such inability. Instead, it seeks to be read as the confluence of these two approaches. In other words, Robinson's novel troubles the distinction between language's ability and inability to express by formulating it as in/expressibility, as the paradoxical simultaneity of the two that makes divinity discernible as difference. This article thus investigates the markedly unorthodox notion of divinity offered in Gilead and its broader implications for theological discourse. © Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association 2016.