Great works of Western literature infused with a religious view of the
Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe (1958)
A Job-like story in which a powerful, wealthy Nigerian named Okonkwo loses all that he has to British colonialism but seeks redemption from his country's native system of beliefs.
The Pilgrim's Progress By John Bunyan (1678)
Bunyan's great allegory depicts the journey of Pilgrim from the Slough of Despond, and the obstacles that he encounters thereafter, to the Holy City.
El Cid Anonymous poet (12th century)
Although the real-life medieval Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz fought as a mercenary against both Christians and Moors, the fictionalized El Cid never waivered in his loyalty to his Christian lord, King Alfonso, even when exiled by him. El Cid's character, then, was upheld for the purity of his motives.
The Divine Comedy Alighieri Dante (1300)
In this epic narrative poem that establishes the traditional Christian view of Heaven and Hell, Dante the poet chronicles the journey of Dante the pilgrim from the punishing circles of the Inferno to the glorious mountains of Paradise.
The Brothers Karamazov By Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1879-80)
This novel contains the classic dialogue - "The Grand Inquisitor" - on suffering and evil in the world. Dmitri doggedly asks Jesus how one can believe in God in the face of the sufferings of children.
Middlemarch George Eliot (1871-72)
Eliot's (Mary Ann Evans) novel captures the decline of institutional religion in 1830s England as well as making a powerful statement about the protagonist Dorothea Brooke as a modern saint.
The Wasteland T.S. Eliot (1922)
Eliot broke new and to many impassable grounds in his poem, "The Wasteland." But its themes are practical, contemporary - the spiritual drought of modern life that can be ended only with a king's self-sacrifice (Christ Jesus).
Faust Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1808-1832)
The classic story of the man who sells his soul to the Devil (Mephistopheles) so that he can gain all the world's knowledge and, thus, power.
The Power and the Glory By Graham Greene (1940)
A powerful parable of sin and redemption.
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam By Omar Khayyam (late 11th to early 12th century)
The Persian poet-mathematician Khayyam is credited with this book of quatrains (rubaiyat). The rhyming proverbs cover many subjects including love and repentance.
The Chronicles of Narnia By C.S. Lewis (1950-56)
A seven-book allegory of New Testament teachings that is especially popular with young readers. It follows the adventures of several children into a fantastical world called Narnia in which forces of good and evil battle for control.
Paradise Lost By John Milton (1667)
Considered the greatest epic poem of the English language, it presents the now-traditional interpretation of the third chapter of Genesis - the Garden of Eden story. Milton's poem brings to life the foibles of human nature and tries to place the origins of man's fall.
William Shakespeare, plays and poetry (1593-1634)
His works - equal portions comedy, drama, and history - tackle moral issues that draw out larger spiritual truths.
The Faerie Queene By Edmund Spenser (1589-1596)
Spenser's allegorical epic narrates the ways in which the inextricable wedding of religion and politics in the medieval world erects social standards of morality.
Night By Elie Wiesel (1958)
Terrifying and stunning tale of a young boy's confrontation with the silence of God in the midst of evil in the Holocaust.
*Compiled by Henry Carrigan, former religion book review editor of Publishers Weekly, current editorial director of Trinity Press International; Katherine Dillin - staff
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society