In colonial America, tales about the capture of English settlers by Native American war parties and their subsequent suffering and privations were wildly popular among readers. In these captivity narratives, writers such as Mary Rowlandson, Jonathan Dickinson and John Williams told autobiographical stories which combined images of brutal violence with examples of spiritual fortitude. In their accounts, as well as in similar and equally popular tales of witchcraft, exploration and seawreck, lie the roots of an American literature, providing distinct patterns for later writers from James Fenimore Cooper to Herman Melville.;In this text, James D. Hartman seeks to uncover the genesis of the captivity narrative in the English providence tale and its transformation in the 17th century. Accounts of miracles, answered prayers and divine judgements in the form of natural catastrophes meant to prove the existence of God have always been a staple of religious literature. But, as Hartman details, in 17th-century England, religious writers were faced with challenges to their faith by the increasingly vital cultural forces of empiricism, scepticism and atheism. Creators of providence tales responded to this challenge by appropriating the language of scientific methodology. They also attempted to broaden their audience by adding violence, sentimentality, melodrama, and other attributes of secular literature to their otherwise spiritual tales.
Ex-university library, library stamp on page edges and front endpaper but text clean and unmarked. Complete with dustjacket.