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If God Meant to InterfereAmerican Literature and the Rise of the Christian Right$
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Christopher Douglas

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702112

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702112.001.0001

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The Poisonwood Bible’s Multicultural Graft

The Poisonwood Bible’s Multicultural Graft

(p.60) Chapter 2 The Poisonwood Bible’s Multicultural Graft
If God Meant to Interfere

Christopher Douglas

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible (1998)—a novel deeply critical of the resurgence and deeply informed by American multiculturalism. The book is a significant exception to serious literary culture's general inattention to the astonishing, unpredicted Christian resurgence of the last forty years. Kingsolver comprehensively critiques American fundamentalism, attacking a certain version of Christianity on its own grounds of Pauline universalism. Yet the novel's universalism is doubled and ultimately undone by a critical relativism. Its strategic ambivalence in its moments of universalism and relativism makes it symptomatic of a kind of impasse that multiculturalism has faced since the 1970s in its response to the powerful conservative Christian resurgence.

Keywords:   Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible, American multiculturalism, Pauline universalism, American fundamentalism

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