The Spiritual Brotherhood of Mankind: Religion in the novels of Hall Caine.

Connor, A
(2017) The Spiritual Brotherhood of Mankind: Religion in the novels of Hall Caine. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine was a best-selling novelist active between 1885 and 1923. His novels were noted for their melodramatic plots, often involving love triangles, with affairs, adultery, extra-marital sex and infanticide. Several of his books sold more than a million copies, and most were adapted for the stage and screen, often by Caine himself, who was also a prolific dramatist. In addition, Caine worked as a journalist and enjoyed a brief political career. Despite his massive commercial success the novels are little read nowadays. Contemporary literary critics dismissed his plots as overly sensational and formulaic and there has been little subsequent in-depth commentary on his novels. However, Caine should not be disregarded as a purely commercial writer of limited ability. He was a deeply religious man with extensive scriptural knowledge, who frequently drew inspiration for his novels from the Bible and viewed fiction as a vehicle for moral and religious instruction. He also used the novels to express his personal beliefs and to engage in specific religious debates. Caine had family connections to the Isle of Man where he eventually settled permanently, and a highly significant archive of largely unexplored material is held at the Manx Museum. Investigation of this resource has enabled a detailed critical appraisal of Caine’s approach to religion in his novels. Each chapter of this thesis considers Caine’s relationship to either a Christian denomination or major religion. The first chapter examines Nonconformity as a powerful formative influence on Caine’s religiosity and on his view of fiction. In the second and third chapters, which deal with the Anglican Church and Roman Catholicism respectively, Caine confronts several religious issues of great interest to his contemporaries and with some relevance again in the twenty-first century. The final two chapters consider Caine’s belief in the fundamental unity of all religions by examining his relationship with the Jewish and Islamic faiths. Taken as a whole, this thesis reclaims Caine for a new readership and reminds us of the powerful role popular novels and drama once had in religious debate, and arguably still have. Caine is not always a likeable figure, certainly not a straightforward one, but he is a striking character and, as such, deserves the consideration offered throughout this work

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Divisions: Fac of Humanities & Social Sci > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2017 12:56
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2021 17:09
DOI: 10.17638/03009465