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Item Title:

The Pilgrim- Hugh Nissenson

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Books, Comics, Magazines

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Item Condition: New
Current Time:19 Jan 17 06:25:36
Time & Date displayed is forUnited States - EDT
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Price per item: £10.68 ($12.98)

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Item Specifics - Books ISBN : 9781402209246
Author : Hugh Nissenson
10.68 14421700 The Pilgrim http://medium.snazal.com/?SWBOTc4MTQwMjIwOTI0Ng== http://large.snazal.com/?SWBOTc4MTQwMjIwOTI0Ng== Hugh Nissenson 9781402209246 9781402209246 All Other Books All Other Books 12.89 The Pilg
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Bookshop2000 (112|0)
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Item Location: Leicester
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Line Position: 3724
Position In File: 8008
Source Text: #34; To no avail. Sarah' --Maureen Corrigan, National Public Radio Fresh AirI'll admit, it's kind of hokey to be talking about a novel called The Pilgrim right before Thanksgiving. What's even more quaint is the fact that The Pilgrim is one of those straightforward works of historical fiction the likes of which we don't see so much anymore. In early-to-mid 20th century America, publishers used to print lots of terrific popular historical fiction by the likes of Kenneth Roberts, F. Van Wyck Mason and C.S. Forester; then, the 1960s shook things up. We readers began to question these master narratives about the past all written by white guys; we began to wonder if Squanto and Sacagawea didn't have their own legitimate stories to tell. All this crucial cultural self-scrutiny tended to elbow traditional historical fiction the kind of novel that primarily aims to tell an engrossing yarn into a musty corner of the novel warehouse. That's why The Pilgrim is such a delightful find. Hugh Nissenson's moody, intelligent novel is about a tormented English Puritan who strikes out for the Plymouth Plantation in 1622. The Pilgrim isn't ignorant of our contemporary awareness that the truth about the past is complicated and elusive: For instance, it nods to the probability that Miles Standish and his militiamen might well have their own horrors to answer for when it came to relations with the Native Americans. But clearly, Nissenson isn't the kind of author who wants to self-consciously spin his mental wheels in the dust tracks of the past at the expense of telling a good story. The Pilgrim briskly moves along in its compelling tale of the perils of life in 17th century London and in the forest primeval of the New World. In doing so, it conjures up that dangerous black magic spell that the most powerful historical novels cast: The Pilgrim makes us feel that, even if this version of the past isn't quite accurate, this is the version we wholeheartedly believe at least for the space of reading. In some of his other novels set in contemporary times, Nissenson's characters have been haunted by a desire for a religious faith that they can't rationally accept. The main character in The Pilgrim, Charles Wentworth, gives us the Puritan spin on that existential dilemma. Charles hungers for salvation in Puritan lingo, he yearns for a sign that he's one of "the elect" while he suspects that he must be one of the damned. As he despairingly says at one point in the novel, "[My] soul [is] a dry land, wherein no prayer can take root." Charles' father is a minister, and Charles himself is sent to Cambridge to prepare for the ministry. There, he meets a fellow student, a secular soul mate whose predilection for making merry with barmaids results in his contracting smallpox, which, in turn, he gives to Charles. Disfigured by the disease, Charles eventually is betrothed to a wealthy young woman named Sarah, whose face has also been ravaged by smallpox. But shortly before they're to be wed, Sarah accidentally snips the flesh of her forefinger as she's trimming her nails. Charles tells us he prayed for Sarah constantly: "Once, [he says] to my shame, I prayed in the midst of making water; my prayer and my urine streamed together from my vile body, one heavenward and one in the chamber pot." To no avail. Sarah's finger turns black and she dies at age 19. Part of the guilty pleasure of reading a story like this is the grateful knowledge that we live in a time and a place when band-aids and antibiotics are at least theoretically available to all. Nissenson's vision of life in the 17th century teems with visions of public hangings and oozing sores, a

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