In 1649, the English people suffered a tremendous wound, a psychic lesion, as they both instigated and endured the killing of their king. John Bunyan came of age in the shadow of this rupture in the political, social, and religious order of the nation; his life and works follow the contours of the Civil War, the Restoration, and the Glorious Revolution. Yet when compared with such contemporaries as John Milton, Andrew Marvell, or Samuel Pepys, Bunyan is strikingly silent about the political events of those tumultuous years. In his single-minded spirituality, Bunyan endures as an intriguing figure, but his conflicted political legacy remains subject to dispute. Trauma and Transformation brings together eight leading early modern scholars who radically reassess the crises of authority, agency, and sexuality that have surrounded John Bunyan since he first began to preach and to write. In his anguished, self-conscious pursuit of salvation, Bunyan augurs the dilemmas of modernity. At the same time, he vigorously espouses dissent and liberty. The essays of this collection examine the societal and psychological fault lines in the early modern culture that Bunyan himself epitomizes.
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Vera Camden is Professor of English at Kent State University. She is the editor of Compromise Formations: Current Directions in Psychoanalytic Criticism (1989) and of The Narrative of the Persecutions of Agnes Beaumont (1992).
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