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Censorship and the Representation of the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England$
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Jan-Melissa Schramm

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198826064

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198826064.001.0001

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Ecce Homo, ‘Real Presence’, and the Word Made Flesh

Ecce Homo, ‘Real Presence’, and the Word Made Flesh

The Drama of the Incarnation in Victorian Literature

(p.123) 4 Ecce Homo, ‘Real Presence’, and the Word Made Flesh
Censorship and the Representation of the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England

Jan-Melissa Schramm

Oxford University Press

Whilst censorship kept sacred drama off the English stage, other genres were not subject to the same legal regulation. Fiction, poetry, and visual art all meditated on the meaning of the sacred body and the ways in which its ongoing spiritual or metaphorical presence might be conjured from its material absence by members of a community of believers. The ways in which scriptural narrative and the liturgy sought to conjure up the dead, to resurrect the martyr, to reanimate the past, were urgent questions; for mid-Victorian writers, these same issues—which foregrounded the capacity of linguistic incantation to effect transformative change—were central not only to the inherited national faith that was under such pressure from nascent scientific methodologies and biblical criticism but also to the types of assent offered by the reader or spectator to the work of art.

Keywords:   Charles Dickens, George Eliot, the Eucharist, Catholicism, Tractarianism, repetition, spontaneity, Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Romola, incarnation

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