How did the Puritans treat literature during the 19th century?

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belarafon | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Since the Puritans were a cast-off sect of Christianity, they often held common feelings of inferiority. Because of these beliefs, their literature tended towards the overtly religious and biographical.

The 19th century in particular was a time of great innovation. The novel had become the major art form in literature, and since many popular authors were quite risque for the time, the Puritan response was generally negative. Puritan communities often considered the fictional story vulgar compared to factual accounts, diaries, and sermons, all of which reflected Puritan ideals. It is a common misconception that Puritan beliefs were "prudish" or excessively strict since they, as with other farming cultures, were very pragmatic about issues of sex and gender. Instead, the misconception comes from their very practical attitudes towards writing down facts instead of fictional stories; since everyone in the 19th century was "prudish" by today's standards, their factual and religious writings were more dry and devoid of sensationalism, unlike popular writing, which was intended to sell rather than inform.