Burning Books: Negotiations between Fundamentalism and Literature

Edited by
Catherine Pesso-Miquel and Klaus Stierstorfer

LC 2011051455
ISBN-10: 0-404-64260-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-404-64260-0

AMS Studies in Cultural History, No. 10

Although fundamentalism is often closely associated with textuality, and with sacred texts in particular, the complex relations uniting literature and fundamentalism have only just recently started to attract the interest of critics and scholars.

The essays in this volume, the fruit of scholars from a wide range of nationalities and based on a variety of critical and theoretical frameworks, examine how different sorts of fundamentalism can interact with different forms of “literature”—from high-brow classical texts to very recent forms of popular culture.

Christian fundamentalism, as well as Islamist or Hindu versions of fundamentalism, come under scrutiny, while the texts and art forms examined range from Daniel Defoe’s opinions on Dissenters to contemporary works by the likes of Ian McEwan, Hanif Kureishi, and Orhan Pamuk, and from intellectual pamphlets and serious, committed novels to Jack Chick’s Fundamentalist Christian comics or Sir Terry Pratchett’s fantasy comic series about the Discworld.

The volume shows that while books can still be threatened by contemporary forms of auto-da-fé—Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses being one obvious example—they can also, conversely, provide a dangerously witty and attractive medium for the propagation and proliferation of fundamentalist ideas. This collection, which includes an essay by Scottish novelist Suhayl Saadi, should be of interest to all the scholars who feel that we need an in-depth study of the links between literature and fundamentalism in order better to grasp the phenomenon, and its strong impact on societies and cultures.


1. A British Novelist’s Viewpoint
Suhayl Saadi, “Under the Gas-Cooler: Fundamentalism and Literature”

2. Christian Fundamentalism in Literature and Popular Culture
Anne Dromart, “Individualism and Toleration: Daniel Defoe and His Time”
Annette Kern-Stähler, “‘The Lord Assembled a Dedicated Staff’: The Comic Crusade”
Nancy Honicker, “The Body as Message: Fundamentalism Undone—Aimee Semple McPherson and Sinclair Lewis”

3. Fundamentalism and Terrorism in Contemporary Novels and Science Fiction
Axel Stähler, “Fantastic Fundamentalism: All Gods Great and Small. Fundamentalism, the Discworld, and the Moon Kahani”
Janet Wilson, “The Contemporary Terrorist Novel and Religious Fundamentalism: Richard Flanagan, Mohsin Hamid, Orhan Pamuk”
Stefan Welz, “Two Voices: Ian McEwan on Terrorism and Fundamentalism”
Dirk Vanderbeke, “The Not Quite Fundamentalist”
Claudia Perner, “Savior of the Hill Scrubs: Religion and Fundamentalism in Tristan Egolf’s Lord of the Barnyard

4. A Many-Headed Hydra: Fundamentalism in Indian and Postcolonial Literature
Frédéric Regard, “‘Great Faith in Books’: Life-Writing, Moral Coercion, and Ethics in Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart
Laetitia Zecchini, “Moving Lines: The Celebration of Impropriety and the Renewal of the World in Arun Kolatkar’s Poetry”
Nilufer Bharucha, “Resistance to Fundamentalism: Salman Rushdie’s Post-Fatwa Fiction”
Catherine Pesso-Miquel, “The Devilry of Righteousness in Kiran Nagarkar’s God’s Little Soldier

Notes on Contributors


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Burning books : negotiations between fundamentalism and literature / edited by Catherine Pesso-Miquel and Klaus Stierstorfer.
p. cm. — (AMS studies in cultural history; no. 10)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-404-64260-0 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Religion and literature.
2. Literature, Modern—21st century—History and criticism.
3. Literature, Modern—20th century—History and criticism.
I. Pesso-Miquel, Catherine.
II. Stierstorfer, Klaus.
PN49.B645 2012
809′.93382—dc23 2011051455

Category: Annuals