Marilynne Robinson's Gilead is a kind of companion volume to Toni Morrison's Beloved, recollecting through tropes of memory the history of American slavery: as with Morrison's novel, these histories are to be productive of contemporary identities. Gilead in particular helps fashion a contemporary Christian multicultural identity suitably cleansed of the complexity of what Frederick Douglass had earlier called “Christian slavery.” Gilead's fashioning of a liberal Christian multiculturalism in response to the conservative evangelical and fundamentalist Christian resurgence of the last few decades, however, is premised on ignoring the very genealogy of that resurgence, whose antecedents lay in the Christian beliefs and practices the novel is determined not to recognize.

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