ABSTRACT

The holy man is a familiar character in fiction1 no less than in life, and the testimony for our period is particularly rich. In the first instance the presence of so much material indicates the hold of the subject on the popular imagination. Moreover, some of our fictional instances have a plausibility and sense of realism which offers genuine documentary value, in the sense that they aim to present what is obviously credible and probably typical. Sometimes a fic­ tional recreation fills in a missing part of our factual mosaic quite convincingly; more often it is in matters of ethos or psychological motivation that fictional texts are able to enrich our appreciation of more strictly historical evidence.