Clare Kemmerer

The Only Crush I Have is the Crushing Weight of My Sins (Love and Faith in Christian Literature)

This collection sources its title from concepts of love: love of God, of people, of art and of text. Love, and its power as a representation of the divine, has inspired authors across genres, religions and time – this excerpt of my collection attempts to portray a survey of literature of love that embodies a complex relationship with the divine, especially the divine as represented in Christian tradition. The authors featured here have shown, through text, the passionate complexity of their love for God and their love for others, whether literal--as in Dhuodha’s instructions for the faith her son, found in A Handbook for William--or in the contemporary meditations on grief, love and the boundaries of death found in George Saunders’ recent novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. Academic musings on love, faith and text also appear, as in Far More Precious Than Jewels and God: A Human History.

-Clare Kemmerer, second-year winner

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Selections from the Collection

The Lais of Marie de France, Marie de France, translated by Joan Ferrante and Robert Hanning, (1978).

The most prized book of this collection, as Marie’s voice comes through in her poetry (which feature Christian and Arthurian myths), giving her a charming, intimate and contemporary edge in the often inaccessible world of medieval poetry. Among all these books, it is Marie for whom I myself have the most love.

Augustine’s Confessions (2009).

Why on Earth Did Anyone Become A Christian In the First Three Centuries? (2016).

The Book of Bibles (2016).

The excerpt of my collection of religious texts that I have chosen to present for the Booker prize is intended to display the breadth of the religious thought and text that has profoundly influenced both my faith and my academic life in the past year. I chose love as a theme for the collection, beyond religion, because it is my love for accounts of the journeys of love and faith of others that has inspired me in my academic path, a path that, convoluted as it is, is best told through my books. As my books represent something that I care about so deeply and have devoted such attention to these past years, I felt it only correct to theme the collection around that devotion, and to attempt to portray the diversity of ways in which religion has served as a medium of love through time.