978-1-57309-358-3 / 9781573093583

Magnalia Christi Americana


Publisher:International Scholars Publications



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About the book:

The year 2002 marks the tercentenary of Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana, a civil and religious history of seventeenth-century Puritan New England. Cotton Mather's name is generally recognized by a broad section of Americans usually in connection with the Salem witchcraft trials. The Magnalia does not often fare so well in general recognition, even though it is perhaps Mather's best known work. Since this one book so completely summarizes a critical eighty-year period in the founding of English-speaking America, it carries with it all the cultural associations of the Protestant founders. When a small group of nonconformist followers of Calvinism settled in New England, it was to create a temporal haven while awaiting a spiritual salvation. The Puritans had a vision and a mission to make their settlement an example to the world as to what a reformed Biblical society could achieve. Their vision was one of the first to define America, and they put that vision to the test. Whatever America and its literature have become in the interim, it must still measure itself against their first idealistic goal. The Magnalia sets that literary benchmark.

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