Christ's Journal Part 1
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by Paul Alexander Bartlett.
Steven James Bartlett
Senior Research Professor of Philosophy, Oregon State University
Visiting Scholar in Psychology & Philosophy, Willamette University
hrist's Journal is one of five independent works of fiction which together make up Voices from the Past, a quintet of novels that de- scribe the inner lives of five extraordinary people. Progressing through time from the most distant to the most recent they are: Sappho of Lesbos, the famous Greek poet; Jesus; Leonardo da Vinci; Shakespeare; and Abraham Lincoln. For the most part, little is known about the inward realities of these people, about their personal thoughts, reflections, and the quality and nature of their feelings.
For this reason they have become no more than voices from the past: The contributions they have left us remain, but little remains of each person, of his or her personality, of the loves, fears, pleasures, hatreds, beliefs, and thoughts each had.
Voices from the Past was written by Paul Alexander Bartlett over a period of several decades. After his death in an automobile accident in 1990, the ma.n.u.scripts of the five novels were discovered among his as yet unpublished papers. He had been at work adding the finis.h.i.+ng touches to the ma.n.u.scripts. Now, more than a decade and a half after his death, the publication of Voices from the Past is overdue.
Bartlett is known for his fiction, including When the Owl Cries and Adios Mi Mexico, historical novels set during the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and descriptive of hacienda life, Forward, Children!, a powerful antiwar novel, and numerous short stories. He was also the author of books of poetry, including Spokes for Memory and Wherehill, the nonfiction work, The Haciendas of Mexico: An Artist's Record, the first extensive artistic and photographic study of haciendas through- out Mexico, and numerous articles about the Mexican haciendas.
Bartlett was also an artist whose paintings, ill.u.s.trations, and drawings have been exhibited in more than 40 one-man shows in leading museums in the U.S. and Mexico. Archives of his work and literary correspondence have now been established at the American Heritage Center of the University of Wyoming, the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection of the University of Texas, and the Rare Books Collection of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Paul Alexander Bartlett's life was lived with a single value always central: a sustained dedication to beauty, which he believed was the most vital value of living and his reason for his life as a writer and an artist. Voices from the Past reflects this commitment, for he believed that these five voices, in their different ways, express a pa.s.sion for life, for the creative spirit, and ultimately for beauty in a variety of its forms-poetic and natural (Sappho), spiritual (Jesus), scientific and artistic (da Vinci), literary (Shakespeare), and humanitarian (Lincoln). In this work, he has sought, as faithfully as possible, to relay across time a renewed lyrical meaning of these remarkable individuals, lending them his own voice, with a mood, simplicity, depth of feeling, and love of beauty that were his, and, he believed, also theirs.
The journal form has been used only rarely in works of fiction.
Bartlett believed that as a form of literature the journal offers the most effective way to bring back to life the life-worlds of significant, unique, highly individual, and important creators. In each of the novels that make up Voices from the Past, his interest is to portray the inner experience of exceptional and special people, about whom there is scant knowledge on this level. During the many years of research he devoted to a study of the lives and thoughts of Sappho, Jesus, Leonardo, Shakespeare, and Lincoln, he sought to base the journals on what is known and what can be surmised about the person behind each voice, and he wove into each journal pa.s.sages from their writings and the substance of the testimony of others. Yet the five novels are fiction: They re-express in an author's creation lives now buried by the pa.s.sage of centuries.
I am deeply grateful to my wife, Karen Bartlett, for her faithful, patient, and perceptive help with this long project.
For my father,
Paul Alexander Bartlett,
whose kindness, love of beauty and of place
will always be greatly missed.
Christ's Journal Part 1
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Christ's Journal Part 1 summary
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