Modernist myths of the fall: F.R. Tennant and T.E. Hulme

H Mead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper focuses on the doctrine of Original Sin, perhaps the most problematic of theological principles for radical writers seeking forms of liberation and progression. Stephen Mulhall has noted the doctrine seems to underpin even the most radically atheistic of modern thought, including that of Nietzsche. Proceeding on this logic, this paper looks at the contrasting attitudes to fallenness expressed by the Edwardian theologian F.R. Tennant, and the modernist writer T.E. Hulme, contrasting the liberal and conservative stances of theological and cultural ‘modernism’ respectively. It examines how these writers’ ideas responded to the debate between science and religion, ideas of vitalism, crowd psychology, and political populism, and ends by noting how the motif of the Fall occurs across a range of modernist texts by writers of various or no religious faith, reflecting the wider resonance of the idea in Western culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-172
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2017


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