The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0057 Monday, 20 February 2006
Date: Friday, 17 Feb 2006 11:22:29 -0000
Subject: 17.0044 Vastation
Comment: Re: SHK 17.0044 Vastation
>Anyone who's read a biography of Henry James will be familiar with
>that term. Henry James Sr. had a "vastation", which changed his life...
>I've seen it several times in reading about the James family.
This is probably the current primary resonance of "vastation". William
James's father was a Swedenborgian, and James drew on his father's
experience (though he doesn't use this precise word) in +Varieties of
Religious Experience+ (1902) in his discussion of Tolstoy.
I have it in my head that from there the term, and the concept, migrated
into existentialism, possibly via Kierkegaard, but I can't seem to
confirm this. Anyone help here?
The two earlier uses cited in the OED don't seem to be relevant in this
context, and the connection of vastation with immunisation seems to be
based on a misconception.
(The complete text by Bloom that Larry Weiss originally drew attention
to can be found here:
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