Transgression & Redemption in American Fiction

Thomas J. Ferraro


Oxford University Press

Transgression and Redemption in American Fiction is a critical study of classic American novels. Ferraro returns to Hawthorne's closet of secreted sin to reveal The Scarlet Letter as a deviously psychological turn on the ancient Meditererranean Catholic folk tales of female wanderlust, cuckolding priests, and demonic revenge. This lights the way to explore what Ferraro calls "the Protestant temptation to Marian Catholicism" in seven modern American masterworks, including Chopin's The Awakening, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Cather's The Professor's House, and Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.

Transgression and Redemption in American Fiction explores stories of forbidden passion and sacrificial violence, with ultra-radiant women (and sometimes men) at their focus. It examines how these novels speak to readers across religious and social spectrums, generating an inclusive mode of address and near-universal relevance. Ferraro breaks the codes of contemporary criticism in his thematic focus and critical style, going beyond Protestantism and even Judeo-Christian Orthodoxy itself. Transgression and Redemption in American Fiction encourages the attentive reader to think about the American imagination, the myriad arts of writing about the passion plays of love, and even our canonical structures for reading and thinking about literature in new ways.