Afterlives of the Saints: Stories from the Ends of Faith

By Colin Dickey

Afterlives of the Saints is a woven collecting of groundbreaking essays that go through Renaissance anatomy and the Sistine Chapel, Borges’ "Library of Babel," the background of spontaneous human combustion, the risks of masturbation, the pleasures of castration, “and so forth” — each one essay concentrating on the tale of a specific (and rather unusual) saint.

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Van Gogh sought to unearth the darkness in whatever as banal as an all-night bar to teach us what is hiding beneath. A month after Van Gogh comprehensive The evening Café, Paul Gauguin arrived in Arles, invited through the more youthful painter to shape whatever like an artist's colony in a small yellow apartment the place Van Gogh have been dwelling. Gauguin arrived at evening, ready till first light on the comparable all-night café, that position of infernal solitude. issues didn't move good; inside of a number of weeks, their dating had began to bitter. "Gauguin," Van Gogh wrote to his brother, "does in contrast to the little yellow cottage. " They quarreled approximately paintings, and approximately funds. ("One factor that made him indignant was once having to recognize that i used to be very intelligent," Gauguin later wrote with attribute humility. ) whilst they painted every one other's graphics and inspired each one other's paintings, Van Gogh's habit grew to become more and more erratic, and some occasions Gauguin aroused from sleep at midnight to discover Van Gogh status without delay over his mattress, silently observing him. simply after the wintry weather solstice, on one of many darkest nights of the 12 months, Van Gogh ended an issue by means of flinging a pitcher of absinthe at Gauguin's face, and the latter resolved to depart Arles for solid. the following evening— December 23— Gauguin used to be strolling domestic whilst, as he later recalled, "I heard a well known little step in the back of me, speedy and jerky. I circled simply as Vincent rushed at me with an open razor in his hand. " Van Gogh halted all at once, and in that bleak alleyway the 2 males stared at one another for a protracted, probably interminable, second. "The glance in my eyes at that second should have been very powerful," Gauguin wrote, "for he stopped, reduced his head and ran again towards the home. " Van Gogh took Luke the Evangelist as his consumer because Luke is the saint of painters. however the saint whom I so much go along with this artist, and especially with that useless wintry weather evening in Arles, isn't really Luke yet Lucy, purchaser of the darkest nights of the 12 months. Lucy's tale all started as a kind of sequel to that of one other saint— as a tender woman she'd come to hope at Agatha's shrine, bringing alongside her mom, hoping to healing her dysentery. Agatha not just cured Lucy's mom but additionally seemed to the younger woman in a imaginative and prescient, telling her that she, too, could in the future be respected in her domestic of Syracuse as Agatha was once in Catania. Lucy, like Agatha, consequently pledged her virginity and paid a equally excessive cost for it— she, too, used to be despatched to a brothel at one aspect and later tortured. And, like Agatha, she's now well-known by way of the physique half reduce from her in the course of those tortures: her eyes. at the least, that is the commonest model of Lucy's tale; there are differing debts of ways she misplaced her eyes. one other comprises a suitor who relentlessly pursued the virginal Lucy, many times complimenting her at the great thing about her eyes. Lucy, eager to be left in peace, easily gouged out her eyes and despatched them to the suitor, telling him he used to be loose to have them if he felt they have been so appealing and asking to be eventually left in peace.

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