Judas and C.K. Stead: personal Zen in the face of God

Gerri Kimber

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper

Abstract

Emeritus Professor C.K. Stead, CBE, ONZ, a fifth generation New Zealander, is his country’s most important, influential and internationally acclaimed writer – the author of thirteen collections of poems, two of short stories, eleven novels, and six books of literary criticism. He is, by definition, a postcolonial writer, and almost everything written by him or about him relates, in one way or another, to the concepts of postcolonial literature. As he admits: ‘I am indelibly part of the notion of postcolonial literature and don't even have to think about it or acknowledge it for that to be the case’. In his essay ‘What I Believe’, first published in 1993, Stead wrote: ‘Intellectually I see the human condition as bleak – though it is a bleakness that has a certain tragic glory’. The so-called ‘great mysteries’ of life – infinite time, infinite space, the apparent uniqueness of our world - cannot, for Stead, be explained by religion. In their place, Stead considers man’s sense of beauty as a true mystery and his sense of comedy as a trait ‘which truly distinguishes the human animal’. Stead’s acclaimed and controversial novel, My Name was Judas (2006), takes the above concepts and utilises them in a fictional and revisionist view of the lives of Jesus and Judas. Witty, acerbic, and occasionally moving, Stead’s Judas does not ‘betray’ Jesus – he simply does not believe in his divinity. Now an old man revisiting past memories, and with a clear conscience, Judas shows that his charismatic childhood friend was merely deluded in believing himself to be the Son of God, and that far from having miraculous powers, he was merely carried away by his own eloquence. Jesus as radical revolutionary? Yes. Jesus as Messiah? No. This paper will discuss Stead’s agnosticism - the notion of faith and rational scepticism - and relate it to the above novel’s radical reworking of the Gospels, and, more broadly, to Stead’s life as a writer
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2009
EventRe-imagining Identity: New Directions in Postcolonial Studies: Inaugural Conference of the Postcolonial Studies Association (PSA) - Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland
Duration: 1 May 2009 → …
http://www.bricup.org.uk/documents/PSA.pdf

Conference

ConferenceRe-imagining Identity: New Directions in Postcolonial Studies: Inaugural Conference of the Postcolonial Studies Association (PSA)
Period1/05/09 → …
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