‘Richard Dawkins has a status that I can’t quite understand’: Marilynne Robinson

Jane Mulkerrins in The Telegraph:

Marilynne-Robinson_3073595c“I thought Housekeeping was far too private a novel ever to be published,” says Marilynne Robinson. “And with Gilead, if I had gone to my editor and said, ‘I have a great idea for a book, about a minister dying in Iowa in 1956…’” She trails off, laughing. “So, when you discover that these stories, which seem borderline incommunicable, actually have reception and mean things to people, that’s very, very gratifying.” Robinson’s novels do not merely “have reception”. Her first, Housekeeping, published in 1981, was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; 24 years later her second, Gilead, won the same award; with her third, Home, she scooped the 2009 Orange Prize.

…Vehemently non-dogmatic, Robinson upholds the basic Christian tenets of tolerance, kindness and forgiveness, and has no time for hardline Christian conservatism in America. “It bothers me enormously. I hate to call it conservatism, because they are not conserving anything. It’s just a claim to a superior patriotism or something,” she says, shaking her head. “There’s a lot of complexity in the Bible, but there’s a great deal of simplicity in it,” she continues. “‘I was hungry and you fed me; I was naked and you clothed me.’ This hardline impulse is very disturbing and I don’t understand it.” She also refuses to be drawn into simplistic debates that pit religion against science, and has, at times, been an enthusiastic reader of tomes on cosmology and quantum physics. “When people try to debunk religion it seems to me they are referring to an 18th-century notion of what science is,” she says. “And I’m talking about Richard Dawkins here, who has a status that I can’t quite understand.” She has also called him “an animal anthropologist” in the past. “The us-versus-them mentality is a terrible corruption of the whole culture.”

More here.