Rewriting the Word: American Women Writers and the Bible

By Amy Benson Brown | Go to book overview

Introduction
The Politics and Poetics of Biblical Revision and Contemporary Women's Poetry

Rewriting the Covenant of Literary Authority

My life is a page ripped out of a holy book and part of the first line is missing. -- Adrienne Rich, "Poem of Women"

Haunted by a sense of alienation from a "holy book," any of several generations of American women writers could have penned these words that Rich adapted from Kadia Molodovsky in 1968.1 Neither alienation nor nostalgia for a lost past, of course, is peculiarly American. What makes these lines revealing of American feminist biblical revision is the fact that the "holy book" played such a prominent role in the foundation of our culture and literary tradition. And submerged in the very beginnings of that tradition are two Puritan women who can be seen as the "first lines" of the pattern that would become feminist biblical revision.

In 1650, when her brother-in-law published a volume of her poems without her permission, Anne Bradstreet became the first American poet. The speaker of Bradstreet's more intimate verses often presents herself in relation to family: first, as the dutiful daughter of a Puritan father who was prominent in the

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