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It is Crawford’s record of Tom’s struggles—a Tom who, for all his intelligence, poetic gifts, and august ancestry, is far from aloof—and their bearing on his poetry and criticism that is the great strength of this work. The alien, haunted, otherworldly Eliot might be veiled in the process, but this is a calculated loss more than compensated by gains elsewhere. Crawford’s work, taking in the richness of Eliot’s early life, is the perfect appetizer for readers looking forward to the feast that is the new expanded and annotated two-volume edition of Eliot’s poetry. Jamie Callison University of Bergen and University of Northampton Religious Liberties: Anti-Catholicism and Liberal Democracy in NineteenthU .S. Century Literature and Culture. By Elizabeth Fenton. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780195384093. Pp. xii + 178. $65.00 You might think a book that links the Continental Congress’s responses to the 1774 Quebec Act with Mark Twain’s 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court would be comparing apples and oranges. However, Elizabeth Fenton’s Religious Liberties: Anti-Catholicism and Liberal Democracy in Nineteenth-U.S. Century Literature and Culture detects a continuity of anti-Catholicism between them. Indeed, in her book, Fenton attempts a breathtaking juggling act using apples and oranges. Up into the air goes Protestant anti-Catholic screeds and more temperate-yet-bigoted discourses, varied expressions of the grand American liberal tradition of group and individual equality and freedom of religion, late 18thand 19th-century literary writings beneath the cope of a voguishly capacious concept of literature, a rich sampling of modern liberal political theory, and a broad swath of general American cultural history. It is quite a performance to be able to keep readers’ eyes on so many elements so seemingly different from one another. Fenton’s main point is that anti-Catholicism in early America was a generative site for discursive invention bearing upon issues of how political rights, especially freedom of religion, became a constituent of American national identity. Put another, perhaps overly simple way that underscores the audacity of Fenton’s insight, the anti-Catholicism many Americans today abjure about the period defined the nation’s modern liberalism so many Americans continue to revere. This is what sets Fenton’s book apart from earlier examinations of American anti-Catholicism, beginning with Ray Allen Billington’s Protestant Crusade, 1800–1860: The Origins of American Nativism (1938) down through Susan Griffin’s Anti-Catholicism and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (2004) and Tracy Fessenden’s Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature (2007). Throughout Fenton’s book, Jenny Franchot’s magisterial Roads to Rome: The Antebellum Protestant Encounter with Catholicism (1994), which weighs American antebellum Protestants’ positive and negative reaction to Catholicism framing an imaginative field of rhetorical and literary invention, acts Book Reviews 259 as something of a foil. Fenton eschews such culturalist vagaries and ambiguities to argue for anti-Catholicism’s direct discursive impact upon liberal discourse. Conspicuous by its absence, however, is Jody M. Roy’s Rhetorical Campaigns of the 19th Century: Anti-Catholics and Catholics in America (1999), which sees liberal rights emerging dialogically through the rhetorical exchanges of both sides, in contrast to Fenton’s view that a modern notion of religious liberties emerged from within the Protestant reaction. As an analysis of anti-Catholic writing producing liberal discourse, Fenton’s book relies upon close readings of selected representative texts from the 18th to the end of the 19th centuries considered in six lean chapters each focusing on case studies. Chapter 1 homes in on the responses to the Quebec Act that essentially equated, in American Revolutionists’ appeals to the Catholic Québécois to join them, religious liberty and Protestantism. This sets the stage for her coda-like discussion of disestablishmentarianism in the early republic as similarly Protestant inflected. In chapter 2 she discerns threads of ‘‘Federalism, Expanionism, and Nativism,’’ in two early novels, Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland, or the Transformation: An American Tale (1787) and Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Hope Leslie (1827), both of which for her ‘‘show that Catholicism represented both the need for territorial expansion...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 259-262
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-28
Open Access
No
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