Review by Choice Review
Damrosch finds the importance of Puritanism for the English novel in the complexity rather than the uniformity of the religious movement; because the structure of divine meaning (``God's plot'') is supposed to be embodied in human life, it revealed itself only through human interpretation and became increasingly problematic as writers tried to come to terms with the plots of their own lives and to invent in fiction the plots of others. The range of these interpretive possibilities is first surveyed in analyses of four Puritan autobiographies and then in a thoughtful consideration of the relations and differences between Paradise Lost and Pilgrim's Progress. Full-scale studies of Robinson Crusoe, Clarissa, and Tom Jones trace in detail the complex relations between secular narrative and religious doctrine and myth. Damrosch's study does not lend itself to easy summation. His critical categories-mimesis, allegory, realism, romance, providence, self, nomos, anomie-reveal particular insights into the works he discusses, interesting in themselves and in their unexpected relations to received critical opinions. Strongly recommended for graduate students and upper-division undergraduates.-G.R. Wasserman, Russell Sage College
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