Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

10 Writers who knew only posthumous fame

1. Emily Dickinson
The first collection of her poetry appeared in 1890 (four years after she died). While some critics scoffed, her lines received immediate popular acclaim. Later editions followed, then interest faded until 1924, when she was enthusiastically rediscovered. Her work has been praised ever since. Today many critics would agree that her poetry was "perhaps the finest by a woman in the English language."
2. Gerard Manley Hopkins
His posthumous fame was established by Robert Bridges putting him among the leading Victorian poets. His manipulation of prosody (particularly his invention of sprung rhythm) and his use of imagery established him after his death as an innovative writer of verse. Nature and religion were the two major themes in his poetic works.
3. Sylvia Plath
Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and is best known for her two published collections, The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel. She also wrote The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death by suicide in 1963. It was only in 1982 that she won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for The Collected Poems.
4. Anne Frank
German-born diarist. One of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, she gained fame posthumously following the publication of The Diary of a Young Girl (originally Het Achterhuis; English: The Secret Annex), in which she documents her life in hiding 1942-1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. It is one of the world's most widely known books and has been the basis for several plays and films.
5. Franz Kafka
Many of his works remained incomplete and unpublished when TB killed him, aged 40, in 1924. After years of tortuous efforts to "begin my real life" and to describe a precise statement of his soul, Kafka considered his efforts a failure. In a last request, he asked his friend Max Brod to burn his papers and manuscripts. Brod refused, saying that if Kafka had really wanted that he would not have given the task to Brod. Thus Kafka's best-known novels, prophetic of the nightmare state of fascism, were first published in Germany 1925-1927. The Nazis soon banned the books but translated editions surfaced elsewhere. Kafka's reputation has steadily grown since the 1940s, and today the works of his critics and interpreters far outnumber his own.
6. Edgar Allan Poe
Associated with Gothic tales of mystery and the macabre, the author of the haunting short-stories "The Raven," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Pit and the Pendulum,” "Murders on the Rue Morgue" and “A Cask of Amontillado” despite his popularity now, Poe's contemporaries better knew him as a literary critic and struggling artist. For much of his life, he tried to make a living through writing but never overcame his financial difficulties or career challenges. His death at the age of 40 is surrounded by mystery.
7. Stieg Larsson
Karl Stig-Erland Larsson was a Swedish journalist and writer. He is best known for writing the Millennium trilogy of crime novels, which were published posthumously and adapted as motion pictures. Larsson lived much of his life in Stockholm and worked there in the field of journalism and as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism. In 2008 he was the second best-selling author in the world. The third novel in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, became the most sold book in the USA in 2010.  By March 2015, his series had sold 80 million copies worldwide.
8. John Keats
Keats was an English Romantic poet and one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along with Byron and Shelley, despite his works having been in publication for only four years before his death. Although his poems were not generally well received by critics during his lifetime, his reputation grew after his death, and by the end of the 19th century he had become one of the most beloved of all English poets. He had a significant influence on a diverse range of poets and writers.
9. Herman Melville
Melville did know some early success but Moby Dick and other works were not commercial successes. His death from cardiovascular disease in 1891 subdued a reviving interest in his work. The 1919 centennial of his birth became the starting point of the "Melville Revival". Critics discovered his work, scholars explored his life, his major novels and stories have become world classics, and his poetry has gradually attracted respect.
10. H P Lovecraft
An American author who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. He was virtually unknown and published only in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, but he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre. Among his most celebrated tales are "The Call of Cthulhu" and "The Shadow over Innsmouth" both canonical to the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft was never able to support himself from earnings as author and editor. He saw commercial success increasingly elude him in this latter period, partly because he lacked the confidence and drive to promote himself.

1 comment:

Ed said...

John Kennedy Toole is another notable (and tragic) example, although perhaps not as famous as any of these. 'A Confederacy of Dunces' won the Pulitzer a decade after he committed suicide (in part because of the rejection of his work). It was only published because his mother kept badgering the author Walker Percy until he gave in and read the manuscript.

H P Lovecraft and Stieg Larsson are two of the worst writers I've ever read. Larsson in particular seemed more interested in the square meterage of his characters' apartments than investing them with any recognizably human characteristics. The dialogue in those books is so flat, banal and emotionless it might have been written by Daleks.