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Religious conversion stories in literature?
May 16, 2012 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Looking for: Religious conversion stories in literature, from Paul onward. Specifically: from non-belief to belief. William James covers this nicely. And I seem to recall Dostoyevsky addresses the issue at least once in his novels (which?). Also C.S. Lewis, I think, somewhere. Other thoughts?
posted by Hobbacocka to Religion & Philosophy (20 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
The classic is Augustine's "Confessions"

C.S. Lewis's book about his conversion is Surprised By Joy.

Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain is a modern classic.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 7:25 AM on May 16, 2012


Are you looking specifically for fiction?

Dostoevsky discusses faith and epiphanies in a lot of his books. The most famous are probably Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory might fit what you're looking for, as well.
posted by kingfishers catch fire at 7:33 AM on May 16, 2012


Fiction or nonfiction. Great suggestions so far. Many thanks.
posted by Hobbacocka at 7:35 AM on May 16, 2012


Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 7:41 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


C.S. Lewis' Til We Have Faces is a conversion story. I think it's his best book.

I'll keep thinking of more.
posted by kingfishers catch fire at 7:42 AM on May 16, 2012


A couple modern ones I like:

Fiction:
Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited
C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength

Non-fiction:
Chesterton's autobiography (unitarian > occult > anglican > catholic)
posted by michaelh at 7:43 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was going to say St Augustine.
posted by princelyfox at 7:45 AM on May 16, 2012


This may not be exactly what you are looking for since this is not literature, but the website Mormon.org has a search feature where you can search for people's personal conversion stories. Part of the feature is that you can search by prior religion which includes Atheist and Agnostic. So these are short nonfiction conversion stories. Most of them are quite short, but here are a few examples that say a little bit.
posted by bove at 8:11 AM on May 16, 2012


Maurice Lamm - Becoming a Jew is a book of accounts of, err, what it says int he title.
posted by curious_yellow at 8:13 AM on May 16, 2012


The Autobiography of Malcolm X
posted by marsha56 at 8:22 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tolstoy's Anna Karenina - one of the supporting characters has a surprising conversion (which is why I'm not telling you which character).
posted by The real Gareth Evans at 8:22 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gareth- You don't have to tell me. You can just remind me!

bove- fascinating.
posted by Hobbacocka at 8:25 AM on May 16, 2012


PK Dick's Exegesis

(The R Crumb version)
posted by empath at 8:32 AM on May 16, 2012


John Henry Newman's Apologia pro Vita Sua.
posted by Cortes at 9:53 AM on May 16, 2012


This is a decent bibliography of literature on conversion narrative (mostly european medieval and early modern). It also mentions Petrarch's account of his conversion.
posted by junco at 10:33 AM on May 16, 2012


Maybe you were thinking of Leo Tolstoy's Ressurection -- it is a novel, but more than a little autobiographical, and the story of a man who, turned off by the established church, seeks and finds a personal relationship with God.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:28 AM on May 16, 2012


The Golden String by Bede Griffiths

In This House of Brede by Rumor Godden. This is a wonderful, wonderful novel that I always snap up when I see it at a thrift shop, yard sale, or the like, so that I can give it as a gift and make sure I always have one!
posted by jgirl at 12:24 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


*Rumer* Godden
posted by jgirl at 12:26 PM on May 16, 2012


Wonderful suggestions. Esp Griffiths & Brede -- both new to me.
posted by Hobbacocka at 12:51 PM on May 16, 2012


Apuleius' The Golden Ass ends with the lead character's conversion to the cult of the goddess Isis. It's very entertaining as well.

Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress starts with conversion, and then describes Christian's life after that.
posted by Ricardus at 1:46 PM on May 16, 2012


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