John Berryman's last prayers

Philip McGowan*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article examines John Berryman's last two poetry collections, Love & Fame (1970) and Delusions, etc. (1972) as the poetic articulations of Berryman's intense scholarly engagement with philosophical and theological discourse. In eschewing confessional readings of his work, the article rehabilitates the term 'confession' as Berryman understood it: not as part of recurrent and reductive analyses of the Middle Generation but, rather, as a doctrinal node within Berryman's theological conceptions of selfhood in relation to God and the role of prayer. In addition, this article connects Berryman's late work to theological frameworks beyond Christianity, principally to the work of Søren Kierkegaard as well as to aspects of Jewish faith, both of which were enduring interests for Berryman.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-205
Number of pages22
JournalLiterature and Theology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 02 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press 2020; All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: [email protected]

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Emmanuel Levinas
  • John Berryman
  • Poetry
  • Søren Kierkegaard

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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