From Library Journal
This anthology of criminal narratives originally published between 1699 and 1796 is valuable primary source material, important to the study of 17th- and 18th-century America. In his excellent critical introduction, Williams (English, Univ. of Mississippi) explores the stylistic conventions of this genre. His commentary on the role of the printer is well worth noting. The criminal narrative was immensely popular in colonial America, where thousands of spectators witnessed public executions and thousands more devoured the printed versions. The executions were carefully staged rituals of "sin and salvation"; condemned criminals served as warnings to the multitude. Toward the late 18th century, changing economic and social conditions refocused the narratives as a source of entertainment. With excellent source notes and a bibliography, this work is enthusiastically recommended for American history and literature collections.- Lesley Jorbin, Cleveland State Univ. Lib.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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In Pillars of Salt
, Daniel E. Williams provides two-score of the most significant American criminal narratives from the colonial and early national periods, examples of a genre that hitherto has received little attention from literary and cultural historians. Deeply informed by reading in the relevant critical theory and the voluminous secondary literature on early New England, his lengthy introduction offers the most detailed analyses we have of the cultural work of these narratives. All students of early American history and culture, of the history of the book in America, and of the sociology of literature generally should find this collection provocative. (Gura, Philip F.)
It is wonderful to have these in print! These narratives are a superb source for understanding the social history of the colonial period. The author's introduction does an excellent job of placing them in their context. These are the kinds of material that will appeal to scholars and students as well as to the general public. I am delighted. (David Rothman)Pillars of Salt
brings together texts that embody the interplay of high culture and low, order and disorder, the sacred and the secular. In doing so these texts are unusually revealing of the complexities of culture in early America. Daniel Williams' introduction and careful editing add greatly to the value of this collection. (David Hall)