Transgression and Redemption in American Fiction

ISBN : 9780198863052

Oxford Editor
272 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Oct 2020
Oxford Studies in American Literary History
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Transgression and Redemption in American Fiction is a critical study of classic American novels. Ferraro returns to Hawthorne's closet of secreted sin to reveal The Scarlet Letter as a deviously psychological turn on the ancient Meditererranean Catholic folk tales of female wanderlust, cuckolding priests, and demonic revenge. This lights the way to explore what Ferraro calls "the Protestant temptation to Marian Catholicism" in seven modern American masterworks, including Chopin's The Awakening, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Cather's The Professor's House, and Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Transgression and Redemption in American Fiction explores stories of forbidden passion and sacrificial violence, with ultra-radiant women (and sometimes men) at their focus. It examines how these novels speak to readers across religious and social spectrums, generating an inclusive mode of address and near-universal relevance. Ferraro breaks the codes of contemporary criticism in his thematic focus and critical style, going beyond Protestantism and even Judeo-Christian Orthodoxy itself. Transgression and Redemption in American Fiction encourages the attentive reader to think about the American imagination, the myriad arts of writing about the passion plays of love, and even our canonical structures for reading and thinking about literature in new ways.


Introduction: Towards a Marian-Catholic Pedagogy of Classic American Novels
1 Had there been a Papist: Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter
2 Of Lascivious Mysticism and Other Hibernian Matters : Frederic''s The Damnation of Theron Ware
3 Vouchsafed by the Holy Ghost: Chopin's The Awakening
4 Densher's Crucifixion--or A Beautiful, Beneficent Dishonesty?: James' The Wings of the Dove
5 Our Lady of Art: Cather's Coming Aphrodite!
6 The Carrawat Confessional: Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
7 No Forgiveness in Heaven, No Forgetting in Hell: Cather's The Professor's House
8 Feast of Our Lady of Desire, Resplendent: Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises
9 Coda

About the author: 

Thomas J. Ferraro is Professor of English at Duke University. He writes on literature, film, and the performing arts, and is the author of Feeling Italian: The Art of Ethnicity in America (NYU, 2005), Ethnic Passages: Literary Immigrants in 20th-Century America (University of Chicago Press, 1993), the editor of Catholic Lives, Contemporary America (Duke University Press, 1997), and a contributor to The Columbia History of the American Novel, Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History, and The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature.

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