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Hating GodThe Untold Story of Misotheism$
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Bernard Schweizer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199751389

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199751389.001.0001

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Absolute Misotheism I

Absolute Misotheism I

Paganism, Radicalism, and Algernon Swinburne’s War Against God

(p.83) Absolute Misotheism I
Hating God

Bernard Schweizer

Oxford University Press

Algernon Swinburne is possibly the first unapologetic misotheist who did not choose self-censorship and concealment but rather boldly announced his hatred of God. This earned him much hostility in return, and this chapter documents the reception of his controversial works. The influences on Swinburne, notably of Blake and Shelley, are also discussed, as well as how Swinburne put his own stamp on the theme of God-hatred by offering alternative pagan deities of fertility and love. Swinburne is not only unusual because he so openly declares his hatred of God but also because his eroticized work violated Victorian standards of decency in more ways than one. This chapter contains compelling close readings of Swinburne’s work, revealing just how radical his denunciations of both Yahweh and Christ were and documenting how this attitude was intertwined with his republicanism and working-class sympathies.

Keywords:   absolute misotheism, William Blake, Percy Shelley, Algernon Swinburne, Christ, Atalanta in Calydon, Songs Before Sunrise, Poems and Ballads, Paganism, fertility goddesses

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