Marilynne Robinson essays tagged posts

A Question From Marilynne Robinson: “What Are We Doing Here?”

So the United States, with plenty of company from around the world, is going through a terrible time. A devastating and wearisome pandemic, renewed inflation, climate change and its associated weather catastrophes, a reinflamed battle over abortion, a fight seemingly unto death over the very nature of how we acquire knowledge, see reality and practice democracy.

It’s hard to find optimists out there, and I wouldn’t claim you’ll discover a raging one in eminent novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson either.

What you will find throughout her work, though, and quite specifically in the title essay of her 2018 collection, “What Are We Doing Here?”, is a meticulously crafted case for the beauty and necessity of the humanities, and a passionate call for realizing the “grandeur” that, right along with our atavistic struggle for survival as high-functioning animals, is part and parcel of our humanity, if we can ...

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Humanity Enraptured and Exposed: The Novels and Essays of Marilynne Robinson

A note to readers: This essay is both longer and more formal than pretty much everything that will follow it on this blog. (I promise.) But I spent a good part of the past year poring over Marilynne Robinson’s work as part of a reading group with two minister friends of mine, and I told myself I’d surely be damned if I didn’t express the product of those labors somewhere. (My friends agreed.) So here it is.


With seven books in 31 years, Marilynne Robinson is far from our most prolific writer—but she is certainly one of our most serious. Popularly under-appreciated but critically acclaimed, Robinson projects unflagging seriousness both in her personal manner and in the moral and intellectual content of her three novels and four non-fiction collections.

Not for her the thrill of death-defying action or rat-a-tat plot lines to keep beach and airport readers turning the page...

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