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Essay on The Poisonwood Bible as a Catalog of Romanticism

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The Poisonwood Bible as a Catalog of Romanticism

 
     In The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver, the romantic standards that are associated with literature during the American Renaissance are evident. This popular novel, a New York Times Bestseller, embodies the concept of Romanticism with its gothic darkness, themes of loss and nostalgia, and a strong captivity narrative. The presence of a wise child and recurring double language are essential to the plot of the story. Nathan Price's misguided mission to save souls in the Congo is transformed into an evil that invades a type of Paradise and so, the reader realizes immediately that this twisted attempt to Christianize the savages will result in a fall of epic proportions. The impending fall and the results are set against a backdrop of revolution and oppression and the Gothic element permeates the narrative as well as the lives of characters throughout The Poisonwood Bible. If analogy and metaphor are the standard trope of Romanticism, this book could serve as an encyclopedic text. Each page is packed with figurative language that transforms and mystifies while using romantic imagery that creates alternately a 'Paradise' and a 'Hell'. "There's a majesty, a 19th-century-novel echo to this sweeping vision of nature doing its thing independent of the human will" (Kerr 7). American Romanticism, as a pattern for successful literature, resounds throughout this modern text.

 

The Poisonwood Bible is a novel about an American family in the early 1960's. Nathan Price, a Baptist missionary, takes his wife and four daughters to a remote village in the Congo, Kilanga. His fervor for bringing souls to Christ is tempered with ingrained habits of racial superiority. Even th...


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...rk: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999.

Budick, Emily M. Engendering Romance: Women Writers and the Hawthorne Tradition 1850-1990. Michigan:BookCrafters, 1994.

Fiedler, Leslie A. Love and Death in the American Novel. New York: Stein and Day, 1966.

Kakutani, Michiko. "The Poisonwood Bible: A Family a Heart of Darkness." The New York Times on the Web. 16 October 1998. http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/10/11/daily/kingsolver-book-review.html>.

Kerr, Sarah. "The Novel As Indictment." The New York Times on the Web 11 October 1998. http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/10/11/daily/kingsolver-magazine.html.

Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1990.

Klinkenborg, Verlyn. "Going Native." The New York Times on the Web. 18

October 1998. http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/10/18/reviews/981018.18linket.html.

 

 


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