From Cultural Memory to Living Word: On Mather's Magnalia

Keying off Reiner Smolinski's study of the Magnalia and three other early New England histories, McGann argues for a more rigorously philological approach to Mather's magnum opus. Though it represents itself, as Sacvan Berkovitch showed, as a testament to "the redemptive meaning of America", a close inquiry into the Magnalia's documentary condition argues that the importance and "greatness" of the work lies in its dynamic incoherencies. The history of the Magnalia's composition supplies a map of the work's tormented rage for redemptive order.