Sedgwick - New England Tale

August 18, 2004

Catherine Sedgwick
A New-England Tale
University of Virginia eText center

I am assigning bits of this to the kids this semester, and skimmed through it to see what to give them. I think they are getting three chapters, about 15,000 words, but that might be a bit much.

This is Sedgwick's breakthrough novel - I think it is her first - and it is very much in the mode of the religious politics of 1820s New England. I had encountered it before only in secondary sources: a contemporary book review castigating it for making a mockery of conversion religion, and Ann Douglass' work on the feminization of American culture where she uses it as a case study in changing literary and social mores.

Suffice it to say that Sedgwick: does not agree with the Trinitarian establishment; accuses the bastions of small town morality of being hypocrites; makes sure that all the heros are religious outsiders, all the villains from the elite, and writes the whole thing in a language that draws on the Bible to condemn organized religion.

It is a pretty good little melodrama, and a very easy read.

Posted by Red Ted at August 18, 2004 09:09 AM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?