American Madonna: Images of the Divine Woman in Literary Culture

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Oxford University Press, 1997 - Religion - 179 pages
This book explores a notable if unlikely undercurrent of interest in Mary as mythical Madonna that has persisted in American life and letters from fairly early in the nineteenth century into the later twentieth. This imaginative involvement with the Divine Woman -- verging at times on devotional homage -- is especially intriguing as manifested in the Protestant writers who are the focus of this study: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harold Frederic, Henry Adams, and T.S. Eliot. John Gatta argues that flirtation with the Marian cultus offered Protestant writers symbolic compensation for what might be culturally diagnosed as a deficiency of psychic femininity, or anima, in America. He argues that the literary configurations of the mythical Madonna express a subsurface cultural resistance to the prevailing rationalism and pragmatism of the American mind in an age of entrepreneurial conquest.
 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
3
THE SACRED WOMAN THE PROBLEM OF HAWTHORNES MADONNAS
10
THE VIRGINAL SOUL OF MARGARET FULLERS Woman in the Nineteenth Century
33
CALVINISM FEMINIZED DIVINE MATRIARCHY IN HARRIET BEECHER STOWE
53
THE SEXUAL MADONNA IN HAROLD FREDERICS Damnation of Theron Ware
72
HENRY ADAMS THE VIRGIN AS DYNAMO
95
ELIOTS ARCHETYPAL LADY OF SEA AND GARDEN THE RECOVERY OF MYTH
116
EPILOGUE
137
Raphaels Deposition from the Cross by Margaret Fuller Mary at the Cross and The Sorrows of Mary by Harriet Beecher Stowe Excerpt from The Gol...
141
NOTES
151
INDEX
173
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About the author (1997)


John Gatta is Professor of English and English Department Head at the University of Connecticut. His publications, most concerned with religion and literature, include numerous journal articles and an award-winning book on the New England poet Edward Taylor.

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