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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter” tells of a beautiful girl who has, from birth, absorbed the poison from the flowers of her father’s garden. In this allegorical tale of the fallen Garden of Eden, William H. Shurr finds a metaphor for the fate of many American writers, for whom the heritage of Calvinism has been the poisoned fruit of the Garden of the New World.
For many American writers, the legacy of the Puritan Fathers has been a pervasive sense of sinfulness and guilt in a violent and unforgiving universe. In this new study Shurr examines how these writers have coped with this heritage.
William H. Shurr, who holds degrees in both theology and literature, is professor of English at the University of Tennessee. His earlier book, The Mystery of Iniquity: Melville as Poet, was co-winner of the 1971 SAMLA Studies Award.
"An original, far-reaching, and powerful critique of the fate of Calvinism in American culture. It is a work of genuine importance for scholars in every area of American studies."—Sacvan Bercovitch
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Calvinism, Calvinism in literature
Literature in English, North America
Shurr, William H., "Rappaccini's Children: American Writers in a Calvinist World" (1981). Literature in English, North America. 31.