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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Prodigal Son in English and American Literature: Five Hundred Years of Literary Homecomings
Jack, Allison M.

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019 pp. vi + 177. $74.00

Series Information
Biblical Refigurations

Description: The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the best-known stories in the Bible. It has captured the imagination of commentators, preachers and writers. Alison M. Jack explores the reconfiguring of the character of the Prodigal Son and his family in literature in English. She considers diverse literary periods and genres in which the paradigm is particularly prevalent, such as Elizabethan literature, the work of Shakespeare, the novels of female Victorian writers, the American short story tradition, novels focused on the lives of ordained ministers, and the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and Iain Crichton Smith. Drawing on scholarship from biblical and literary studies, this study demonstrates the remarkable potency of the parable in generating new, and at times contradictory, meanings in different contexts. Historical and literary criticism are brought into dialogue to explore this remarkably resilient and nimble character as he dances through drama, novels and poetry across the centuries.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Synoptic Gospels, Luke, Literature, Methods, Literary Approaches, Reception History

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Review by Anthony Swindell
Published 9/9/2020
Citation: Anthony Swindell, review of Allison M. Jack, The Prodigal Son in English and American Literature: Five Hundred Years of Literary Homecomings, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2020).


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