Angels of Modernism: Religion, Culture, Aesthetics 1910–1960 by Suzanne Hobson (auth.)

By Suzanne Hobson (auth.)

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Twice, in In Parenthesis, David Jones mentions the angels by name: in the first instance, they slide into a less than flattering description of the old lags – ‘the know-alls, the wiseacres, the Johnnie Walkers, the Mons angels, tugging their moustaches’; and in the second, they feature in a curious love-song to the rifle: ‘it’s the tensioned yew for a Genoese jammed arbalest and a scarlet square for a mounted mareschal, it’s that county-mob back to back. 14 For the most part, the angels were viewed as a more local, even parochial challenge.

84 While several of the writers featured in this book incline to the first view, others find rich material in the disagreement itself for a reconsideration of the gendered, sexual or anthropomorphic bias of religion. 85 The claim finds little support in scripture. As suggested above, Talmudic and Biblical descriptions of the angels are at best contradictory and frequently defy representation altogether. Thus although the three angels who appear to Abraham in Genesis 19: 1–28 are usually depicted as men, the Greek text can also be interpreted to mean ‘the Lord’.

D. notes, they were also mass-produced and commercialized in the form of illustrations for Christmas cards. 115 The angel would seem, however, to have been an exception to this rule, appearing in all manner of secular contexts including scenes from daily life, cityscapes or landscapes. Guardian angels in particular appear in a wide variety of forms and poses. Buday describes a card sent to Queen Victoria in the 1880s, which shows a sombre seascape and a ship that appears as if it is about to be overwhelmed.

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