Monday, October 16, 2006

The Puritan Ordeal

by Andrew Delbanco

"Reading is rapture (or if it isn't, I put the book down meaning to go on with it later, and escape out the side door)." --William Maxwell (1908-2000)

I didn't finish this book, and, thanks to the above quotation, I did not feel bad about it at all.

I found out about The Puritan Ordeal from a review of another book, and it's idea intrigued me: not just a social or intellectual history, but an emotional history of the white people who colonized North America, how they experienced and reacted to religion, the new landscape, etc. It turned out to be too academic for me, with too-long excerpts from historical texts and diaries, when all I really wanted was the author's conclusions. Of course, apparently unsupported conclusions would not have been quite right either, but the balance was a bit off for my taste.

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