Bloom asserted that Granger's “great-grandparents” (my great-greats) proceeded in life with a social confidence that their immediate peers had read, and frequently memorized passages from, the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress and Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks & Romans.
Sidestepping Granger's (and most certainly Bloom's) argument for a moment, I'm not at all confident that my great-greats were familiar with Plutarch. Even Bunyan's classic is a bit iffy. But the Bible, most certainly (along with the guiding principles — thoroughly memorized — of the Katechismus aus der Kleine Gemeinde). And most churches, and not a few households, had a copy of Martyr's Mirror.
Rachel Yoder (Mennonite name, hers — Swiss Mennonite, mind you) encounters the field of Mennonite Romance Novels for the first time, and contrasts it with the material found in Martyr's Mirror. Do read Yoder's piece, but also bear in mind some facts she (or, more likely, her editor) has withheld. The woodcut of “Anneken Heyndricks, bound to a ladder, (her) eyes cast heavenward in sublime abandon as flames lick her body” is indeed arresting and memorable. What Yoder neglects to mention is that Heyndricks is, in fact, being tilted by her captors so that she falls face first into the fire. Her mouth has been stuffed with gunpowder.
Hers is one of the speedier deaths in this enormous volume of broken bodies and spilled blood.
I hope I can be forgiven if I'm slow to push some shared texts on my daughters. (Though it's all on-line, of course.)
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