THE NEW ENGLAND CONSCIENCE by Austin Warren

THE NEW ENGLAND CONSCIENCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

There's a delicious irony in the fact that so thorny and rigid a phenomenon as the Turitan ethos has been examined with such ease and affable assurance as Professor Warren demonstrates in his splendid little book. Perhaps this is due to Warren's own New England background (there's a distinct, if casual, personal tone to many of his remarks): perhaps it's simply a case of vintage scholarship. Whatever the reason, his collection of short essays, or ""case histories,"" as he prefers to call them, offers a penetrating portrait of representative figures who wrestled with the Moral Law from colonial days to the present century. One of its more interesting features is to note the discontinuity the historical process afforded; the conflicting shades of piety, doctrinal disputes, and contrary pulls of toleration and inflexibility, or outright neuroticism in governors like Roger Williams, preachers like Mather and Edwards, or loners like Thoreau, and the unhappy legacy they bequeathed to such worldly introverts as Henry James and Henry Adams: or the all too honest pessimism of Edwin Arlington Robinson haunted by the adage that success is failure and failure is success. The reader will find many theological, pathological, and metaphysical subtleties compressed here, and one underlying motif: the Puritans suffered for conscience; their descendants, especially those of the 19th century, suffered from conscience. A sound, shrewdly sympathetic critique.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1966
Publisher: Univ. of Michigan