Writers rush in where theologians fear to tread: the artistic problem in The Vintner's Luck and Mr Weston's Good Wine


  • Tim McKenzie




Q: What do you get if you cross a wine-loving supernatural being with a small village?

A: It depends. If you’re a contemporary New Zealand reader, your answer will probably be The Vintner’s Luck, Elizabeth Knox’s acclaimed novel about angelic visitations to a nineteenth century French village. However, seventy years ago, the same riddle might have been answered with reference to Mr Weston’s Good Wine, a novel by T. F. Powys about the visit of a divine wine-merchant to a Devonshire village in the early twentieth century. In what follows, I do not wish to suggest that Powys had any direct influence on Knox. Instead, I consider what these novels suggest about the artistic problems that inevitably attach to any fictional exploration of Christian theology. While both The Vintner’s Luck and Mr Weston’s Good Wine feature supernatural actors taken from the Christian story, their portrayal differs significantly from portrayals of the same characters in more orthodox narrations of the story. Ultimately, I wish to suggest that these variations are intrinsic to the way that these ambitious novels successfully meet the artistic problems of imaginative engagement with Christian theology.


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Author Biography

Tim McKenzie