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The Islamic Lineage of American Literary CultureMuslim Sources from the Revolution to Reconstruction$
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Jeffrey Einboden

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199397808

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199397808.001.0001

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“To look at the Koran through his spectacles”

“To look at the Koran through his spectacles”

The Muslim Progress of Lydia Maria Child

(p.93) 4 “To look at the Koran through his spectacles”
The Islamic Lineage of American Literary Culture

Jeffrey Einboden

Oxford University Press

A “household name in America” who was acclaimed as “the first woman in the republic,” Lydia Maria Child enjoyed a literary celebrity surpassing nearly all her contemporaries. Publishing across a wide generic range—historical novels, children’s tales, advice columns, antislavery polemics—Child also ranged across religious expressions, personally appealing to Muslim sources even while producing homespun American wisdom. This chapter traces Child’s consistent concern for Qur’ānic precedents as she pursued her progressive social reform, appealing to Islam while advocating for abolitionism and women’s rights, culminating in her Progress of Religious Ideas (1855) and Aspirations of the World (1878). Reviving print sources now neglected, the core of this chapter addresses Child’s manuscript renditions of the Qur’ān via George Sale’s translation, witnessing the private Islamic investments that underlie Child’s popular “household” writings.

Keywords:   Lydia Maria Child, Qur’ān, Progress of Religious Ideas, American abolitionism, Aspirations of the World, George Sale

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