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298 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE In the final chapter, "The Image of Christ and a Disability Perspective;' Basselin departs from close-reading and uses O'Connor's life as an artist as a vehicle for a very thoughtful theology of disability. In my mind, this chapter is most suited for scholars and teachers of disability studies that also happen to enjoy reading O'Connor. In my course on "Disability and the Popular Imagination;' my students will have to wrestle with the following excerpt: "As communion with God is dependent upon the broken body of Christ, so communion with one another is dependent upon realization of a participation in our universal human brokenness. O'Connor's characters who most fervently deny this brokenness are the characters whose relationships are least whole and healthy" (91). To conclude, my only slight frustration with Basselin's book pertains to the notes. Many times I wished that the information found in the endnotes would have been included into the body of the text to give more scholarly depth to the literary analysis. This editorial decision made it clear to me that the book's focus centers more on disability than on O'Connor scholarship. That said, Basselinsis a book that I will use in the classroom. His insights, analysis,and prose styleare useful not only for O'Connor teachers but also for O'Connor scholars, and especially those who teach Disability Studies. JessicaHooten Wilson and JakeStratman John Brown University The Abolitionist Imagination. By Andrew Delbanco. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012.ISBN978-0-674-6444-7. Pp. xi +205. $24.95. Andrew Delbancos brief volume The Abolitionist Imagination offers a civil discourse on the topic of abolitionism as applied, not only to the anti-slavery movement of the nineteenth century, but also to his theory that such movements reflect a "recurrent American phenomenon" (3). Turning to literature as his example, Delbanco explores antebellum American examples from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville to illustrate that abolitionists, contrary to postwar reactions, were seen largelyas a radical fringe group by many American writers who chose not to champion the cause in their writings. The discourse on this topic takes the form of commentaries written by scholars John Stauffer, Manisha Sinha, Darryl Pinckney, and Wilfred M. McClay. Each critical essay offers a reaction to Delbanco'sthesis from a different perspective. Ultimately,as Daniel Carpenter notes in the foreword, "The volume becomes a reference work on American abolitionism and its meaning" (x), Defining abolitionism as "a determined minority set out, in the face of long odds, to rid the world of what it regards as a patent and entrenched evil;' Delbanco BOOK REVIEWS 299 argues that it is "a persistent impulse in American life:' (3) and that, as a part of human nature, "we have not seen the last of it, and probably never will" (23). Noting that authors such as Hawthorne did not side with or against the abolitionist movement, he posits that antebellum American literature "came to be valued for the case it made for compromise and moderation-for the middle ground that vanished as the nation descended into fratricidal war" (39). Citing comments by scholars such as Kenneth Lynn, who in the 1960s identified slavery as the "gravest moral problem in the nation's history:' Delbanco argues that the American literature canon eventually changed because of the successful campaign of the anti-slavery movement. The study of literature of the African American experience, he believes, grows from the need to face all aspects of this historical period and to do so by looking at the words of the participants of slavery and its aftermath. He cautions against criticizing authors like Hawthorne for their lack of engagement, however, suggesting that we consider our own level of reaction to the oppression in countries that produce many of the United States'consumer items. "What moral stand are we taking?" he asks. John Stauffer's contribution, "Fighting the Devil with His Own Fire:' delves more deeply into the outlooks of Hawthorne, Henry James, and Lionel Trilling to demonstrate his disagreement with Delbancds assertion that the writers, like others, viewed the abolitionists as a radical element of society and avoided the issue of slavery...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 298-301
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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