Lot's Wife in the Novels of Mary Anne Sadlier
Keywords:Mary Anne Sadlier, Irish American Catholic literature, biblical reception history, Lot’s wife
The biblical figure of Lot’s wife in the novels of Mary Anne Sadlier functions typologically, assigning the role of Lot’s wife to both men and women. This essay explores how such an interpretative move functioned to reverse the charges leveled against Catholic men by muscular Christianity and Catholic women by the Protestant Cult of True Womanhood. Sadlier’s audience was the burgeoning Irish American immigrant community, but the ethnically porous character of Sadlier’s sources of inspiration for that community might be attested by her family’s Catholic catechetical publishing company’s reprint of Cardinal Wiseman’s Fabiola in the United States a mere two years after its initial publication in Britain and by her numerous translations from the French. The choice of a typological figure with a widely acknowledged perceived historical basis helped Sadlier to navigate between progressive and conservative Catholic biblical interpretation contemporary to her writing. Typology also facilitated Sadlier’s participation in the Catholic polemics against anti-Catholic, nativist literature by assimilating a negative biblical exemplar to biblically devoted Protestants.
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