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Religious Idiom and the African American Novel, 1952-1998 Hardcover – June 24, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0813030555 ISBN-10: 0813030552 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"In this groundbreaking and valuable work, Valkeakari creatively accounts for how African American authors use Christianity in their writing as they recycle or in some cases subversively secularize or supplant biblical precedents. [This book will be] of interest to anyone interested in the dialogue between religion and literature and how African American literature forms a cohesive and at times rebellious tradition." - Jonathan Little, Alverno College"

Book Description

 
"In this groundbreaking and valuable work, Valkeakari creatively accounts for how African American authors use Christianity in their writing as they recycle or in some cases subversively secularize or supplant biblical precedents. [This book will be] of interest to anyone interested in the dialogue between religion and literature and how African American literature forms a cohesive and at times rebellious tradition."--Jonathan Little, Alverno College
 
“An extremely valuable (post) modern contribution to the field and one that opens new ways of looking at the ongoing and often ignored and underplayed dialogue between religion and literature.”--Carol Henderson Belton, University of Delaware
 
In this study of novels by Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Leon Forrest, Ernest Gaines, Randall Kenan, John Edgar Wideman, Gayl Jones, and Octavia E. Butler, Tuire Valkeakari examines the creative re-visioning and reshaping of Judeo-Christian idiom and imagery by African American novelists--specifically their use of "sacred" language for secular meaning. She shows that in writing about the complexities of American selfhood and nationhood, these authors neither abandon religious idiom nor evangelize. Rather, they delight in reshaping their chosen raw material for their own purposes, which often have little to do with the material's original context or function. Their use of biblically derived idiom is marked by innovative secular subversion and by stories of spiritual quest that defy conventional dogmatic definitions. These authors evoke religious rhetoric to study and revisit Martin Luther King Jr.’s concept of the “beloved community” and to express their yearning for an inclusive love ethic that could transcend any boundaries drawn in the name of race, class, gender, or religion.
Beginning with the functions of Christian idiom in African American letters from the 1770s to the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and its aftermath, followed by an analysis of post-1950 novels, Valkeakari shows how, generation after generation, African American writers have evoked Christian rhetoric to advocate civil rights and democracy. Their treatment of this legacy reached a new level of creativity in the latter half of the 20th century, becoming a more pervasive characteristic of the African American novel than ever before.
 
 

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