Reading Religion in African American Narratives by Ethel Young-Minor Hell Without Fires: Slavery, Christianity, and the Antebellum Slave Narrative. By Yolanda Pierce. Gainesville: UP of Florida, 2005. 151 pp. $59.95 cloth. Faithful Vision: Treatments of the Sacred, Spiritual, and Supernatural in Twentieth-Century African American Fiction. By James W. Coleman. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2006. 252 pp. $42.95 cloth. The first decade of twenty-first century literary analysis introduces two arresting treatments of how religious discourse informs the African American narrative tradition: Hell Without Fires by Yolanda Pierce and Faithful Vision by James Coleman. Pierce's work considers the spiritual narratives of five African Americans: George White (1810), John Jea (circa 1811), Solomon Bayley (1825), Zilpha Elaw (1845), and David Smith (1822). The book's central premise is that antebellum African American writers understand hell as two distinct concepts; the spiritual hell of biblical narratives and the earthly hell blacks of this milieu experienced through "daily physical and psychological suffering." Pierce argues that as antebellum writers became conscious of both realms of hell, and subsequently located ways to deflate the power of earthly hell, they became both God-possessed and self-possessed. They were then equipped to enact communal change. Each chapter provides
The Southern Literary Journal – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Feb 12, 2009
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