Post-theist Constructions of Meaning in Literature. The Example of Simon Vestdijk

Johan Goud


Are literary post-theism and atheism marking the end of metaphysical queries or do they confirm the Kantian inevatibility of such unanswerable questions? Can this be seen in the characters that are described and the ideas that are presented? These questions are treated in relation to the Dutch author Simon Vestdijk (1898-1971) who was a declared atheist. Four themes with a religious aspect can be discerned in his extensive work: loss, detachment, restlessness and redemption. Special attention is paid to his series of 150 sonnets ‘Madonna with the falcons’. Finally, it is concluded that Vestdijks thought, representative of an influential form of atheism, suggests a spirituality which is aporetic and vexed by dilemmas.

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© Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde | ISSN (print): 0040-7550 | eISSN (online): 2212-0521