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Latecomers: Four Novelists Rewrite The Bible

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the use of biblical stories as source texts in four novels: David Maine's Fallen, Howard Jacobson's The Very Model of a Man, Muriel Spark's The Only Problem, and Gloria Naylor's Bailey's Café. While each goes about its business of rewriting the biblical story in relation to a particular contemporary agenda or concern, they have in common a sense of lateness which they ironically project onto the biblical urtext. A sense of lateness is typical of modern and postmodern rewritings of ancient narratives and indeed is a characteristic of late-twentieth and early-twenty-first century literary consciousness. By turning the biblical story into a latecomer, the four novelists simultaneously free themselves from deference to a story deemed sacred in Western culture and pay homage to its indispensability as a platform.

Keywords: biblical story; David Maine; Gloria Naylor; Howard Jacobson; latecomer; Latecomers: Four Novelists Rewrite; Muriel Spark



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