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Christianity and Literature 552 Rogers’ knowledge of Berryman’s work is impressive, with careful attention to detail and painstaking analysis. His careful research encompasses Berryman’s life and work but also includes consideration of Berryman’s original sources to understand better how he wrestled with them in his own work. Though the book is laid out well with chapters clearly divided by collection being discussed, the amount of detail did make following Rogers’ argument challenging within the chapters. The analysis would have been benefitted from more direct guidance in explaining how discussion of individual poems within collections related to conclusions that Rogers had drawn about the spiritual concerns of the collection of which they were a part. The introduction is the book’s strongest chapter; in it, Rogers has some of the most sensitive discussion of Berryman’s work. Reflection on the poet’s suicide in that chapter, for example, anticipates hesitations that readers might have about fully accepting Berryman’s embrace of the God of Rescue and affirming his full conversion. This discussion is sensitive to theological questions beyond the bounds of Rogers’ analysis, and rather than offer any conclusions himself, Rogers judiciously offers interpretations of others and Berryman’s affirmation of the Catholic Catechism that, surprisingly perhaps, leaves room for God’s provision of “salutary repentance” after the suicidal act. A return to this discussion at the end of Rogers’ analysis, in light of his discussions of Berryman’s final poems and his continued struggles with mental illness and the repercussions of his alcohol and drug abuse, would have bolstered that final section which concludes somewhat abruptly. Overall, however, Rogers’ analysis of Berryman’s poetry in God of Rescue is worthwhile. Readers with interest in John Berryman would, of course, appreciate Rogers’ careful analysis of Berryman’s work. Readers with interest in contemporary poetry would do well to mark the significance of the spiritual search in Berryman’s poetry. Beyond those narrow audiences, however, Christianity and Literature readers of all stripes would appreciate Rogers’ careful handling of theological issues and their implication and manifestations in Berryman’s work. Marybeth Davis Baggett Liberty University Preaching and the Rise of the American Novel. By Dawn Coleman. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-8142-1205-9. Pp. vii + 293. $69.95. Perhaps following Robert Alter’s lead in Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible (Princeton UP, 2010), two scholars have recently published works that examine, not authors’ appropriation of the language of the King James Bible, 553 Book Reviews but novelists’ appropriation of preaching in their works. In The Novel as Church: Preaching to Readers in Contemporary Fiction (Baylor UP, 2013), David Dickinson looks closely at preachers in English fiction in the late twentieth and early twentyfirst centuries. Also taking as her subject preaching, but in an American antebellum context, Dawn Coleman offers Preaching and the Rise of the American Novel, a thoroughly researched, clearly written, and largely convincing study of the ways antebellum luminaries such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Harriet Beecher Stowe adeptly use to their advantage the authority of preachers and sermonic rhetoric in their novels. Coleman seeks to recover “a crucial moment in the neglected history of the intimate yet often contentious relationship between Protestant preaching and other cultural forms” (3). The crucial moment is the 1850s, a decade in which Americans witnessed a growth in the popularity of preaching and the concomitant slow but steadyascentofthenoveltoapositionof“morallegitimacyandaestheticautonomy” (4). George Lippard, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and William Wells Brown “resist[ed] preaching through mockery, irony, and satire” as they simultaneously “envied it, identified with it, and appropriated it as a distinctive authoritative mode of addressing audiences” (4). As Coleman makes clear, this “wrestling match with preachers” (4) complicates simplistic arguments that would see these authors’ relation to preaching as merely antagonistic or scornful. A far more sophisticated and nuanced relation to preaching is put forth in these pages. Despite “decades of scholarly dismissal” (4), preaching, Coleman argues in her introduction, merits attention because in antebellum America it “was the culture’s preeminent voice of moral and religious authority” (7). Coleman approaches the cultural significance of preaching in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 552-556
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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