Faith in Fiction: The Emergence of Religous Literature in America

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9780674291720: Faith in Fiction: The Emergence of Religous Literature in America
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The first full-length study of early religious fiction from the Revolution to the Civil War, this book explores a long forgotten genre of writing. Ranging over the fiction of some 250 American writers, Reynolds provides an overview of the bestsellers of their time and the popular culture of the period. The literary movement he traces began as a cautiously allegorical one, and he finds that it evolved into a fairly realistic genre by the mid-nineteenth century. This shift from the metaphysical to the earthly was abetted by the authors' uses of a variety of appealing modes: the oriental and visionary tale, historical fiction on biblical themes, and the domestic novel.

Reynolds' study addresses several questions: When did religion first appear in American fiction, and why was the novel increasingly chosen as the appropriate literary mode of popular inspiration? How could theology become entertainment? In what sense does the rhetorical strategy of this fiction reflect changing ways of religious discussion? How can the sermons, essays, or memoirs of the early writers help us to understand the themes and techniques of their fiction?

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About the Author:

David S. Reynolds is Professor of English at the Graduate School and Baruch College, City University of New York.

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Reynolds, David S.
Published by Harvard University Press (1981)
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