Faith and doubt in Luke Carman's An Elegant Young Man

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Abstract

This essay reads Luke Carman's experimental 2013 novel/memoir, 'An Elegant Young Man', as it traces out an idiosyncratic and disturbingly apocalyptic path through Sydney's western suburbs. Taking into account Felicity Castagna's work on Carman as a 'bogan flaneur', I consider what might be at stake if one were to examine the protagonist's journey with certain theological or religious frameworks in mind (e.g. as a series of Dantean spiralling descents, or some kind of prophetic wandering). Indeed, by taking stock of the types of sacred and profane elements in the text, I argue that Carman's work is paradoxically defined by postures of ironic scepticism on one hand, alongside profound moments of (a)spirituality on the other. Key to this dialectic between doubt and faith is the book's series of "anti-epiphanies" that demonstrate the limited and limiting visions the southwestern suburbs offer. Thus, Carman's book presents new kinds of transcendence, catching "the murmur of something gone" (184) in underrepresented areas of Sydney, but simultaneously realising that "Australia is not the place for ecstatic truth" (148).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-54
Number of pages13
JournalSt Mark's Review: a journal of Christian thought and opinion
Volume249
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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