Enclosures, Enchantments, and
the Art of Discernment
I have almost never found anyone whose work I respected …
who did not talk in the vocabulary that you and I are using.
It’s not the vocabulary of literary criticism.
—Toni Morrison to Gloria Naylor
It is the claim of this study that contemporary North American fiction shares with the culture at large a resurgent interest in the religious. But even as writers such as Kushner, Pynchon, and DeLillo challenge secular definitions of the real and project a spiritually charged cosmos, they also caution, as we have seen, against turning this cosmic house of the spirits into a prison house of religious dogma. Rejecting the fundamentalist drive toward social and intellectual enclosure, they attempt a reinvention of the religious like that delineated by Mircea Eliade, who, as I noted in the introduction, called for a “ ‘demystification in reverse’ ” that would affirm divine presence “without returning to a pre-critical naivete with its ‘enchanted enclosure of consciousness” (Lane 19). For some contemporary thinkers, such a negotiated return is simply impossible: any return to the