Review of Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry, by Toby Davidson
Davidson offers a comprehensive, assiduously-researched and well-structured study of a major but often neglected influence in Australian literature: Western Christian mysticism. His 'relatively rigid' (8) definition of mysticism—the direct, experimental, or unitive expression of Christ, God, or Godhead transcending regular modes of knowledge (8)—helpfully saves him from including any and every type of otherworldly experience. But it is also knowingly provisional. For Christian mysticism (especially at its most apophatic) places words like 'direct', 'expression', 'transcendence' and even 'God' under immense pressure. And, as Davidson reminds us, 'mystical' and its cognates are defined variously by others with diverse social, theological and/or aesthetic backgrounds.
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