An examination of ’extreme’ literary rewritings of the bible, which traces how the bible has been adapted and rewritten in literature across time. The focus of the study is upon how literature can use and apply biblical motifs and styles without specifically re-telling a recognisable biblcal story, and yet at the same time, remain heavily influenced by the Bible.
Swindell begins with an overview of the current state of play in the study of the literary rewriting of the Bible considering examples from medieval times through to the work of Margaret Atwood. Swindell discusses and identifies the point at which certain rewritings become ’extreme’ and the conditions which lead to this. After surveying an array of such rewritings, and the range scholarship on them, Swindell examines two specific authors (Rider Haggard and Sylvie Germain) whose work has been neglected by critical scholarship. Swindell then studies six extreme rewritings by other, modern and postmodern authors (including Wilfred Owen and Philip Pullman), before drawing conclusions and suggesting the significance of what has emerged for reception studies as a whole and for the understanding of the Bible as a polymorphous text.