By Suzanne Hobson (auth.)
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Additional info for Angels of Modernism: Religion, Culture, Aesthetics 1910–1960
123 The angels in Angels in America are thus bound tightly to their late twentieth-century moment: a time when the end-of-history debate (as well as AIDS policy) was at the forefront of the left-wing philosophical and critical agenda. 124 The frequency of recourse to the Angel of History has been greeted with misgivings and even dismay in some quarters. K. ’126 This use of the angel as shorthand for a particular set of attitudes – left-wing, critical (using the term with the particular force it has gained from Critical Theory) and even revolutionary – is one aspect of the secular life of the angel that I wish to interrogate in this book.
Peers points out that the Greek for angel – ‘ho angelos’ – is masculine in gender and that this distinction was ‘always followed in iconography’. 90 By the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, however, angels had assumed more ambiguous clothing. Mayr-Harting ascribes this sex change to (adopting his own ‘horrible’ but useful neologism) caelesticization. 91 Mayr-Harting identifies Michael as an exception to this rule. But, as he also points out, Michael is really ‘de-angelicized’ and sanctified in this period.
109 In fact, the Victorians did not so much ignore the angels as find new ways to deploy them, often in such a manner as to try to avoid conflict with the supposedly rational and educated mind of the age. They did not always succeed. The brilliance of Woolf’s conceit in squaring up to and then finally killing her nemesis tends to obscure the fact that far from being universally worshipped the Angel in the House had long been a divisive image. To some critics it seemed restrictive to women; to some, irreligious; and to others, radical precisely for the irreligious way it identified the divine with the domestic and the female.
Angels of Modernism: Religion, Culture, Aesthetics 1910–1960 by Suzanne Hobson (auth.)