Michael Wigglesworth: Devoted Preacherman Overcomes Sickliness And Silly Name to Write The First Am

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Michael Wigglesworth: Devoted Preacherman Overcomes Sickliness And Silly Name to Write The First American Bestseller


Puritan diaries provide feeble fodder for biographical blurbs. Most diaries focus primarily on spiritual growth. The diary of Michael Wigglesworth is hardly an exception. As noted in the reputable Dictionary of Literary Biography, "Wigglesworth’s private, personal life is surrounded by much ambiguity and conjecture." Wigglesworth (1631-1705) spent the bulk of his life in Malden, Massachusetts, his activities alternating between preaching, writing preachy poetry, and retching in pain. He studied at Harvard and eventually became a practicing physician and minister. He hardly had a year
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Worth noting is one essay which delves quite deeply into the aforementioned Wigglesworth diary. Though the diary is unhelpful in significantly detailing the man’s life, it can be decoded and analyzed psychoanalytically. "Decoded" is meant literally, for Wigglesworth apparently transcribed "a number of sexual dreams and fantasies" in code into his diary. He tutored young men at Harvard and writes that he housed "filthy lust flowing from [his] fond affection to [his] pupils." He later admits, "I find my spirit so exceedingly carried away with love to my pupils that I cant [sic] tell how to take up my rest in God." One critic notes that Wigglesworth’s "desire for his students comes very close to the homoerotics of his relationship with God." Many religious poems of the seventeenth-century, like "The Day of Doom," "created an erotics of domination that had homoerotic overtones." The hordes of devout colonial Christians proudly toting Wigglesworth’s work were most certainly unaware of such an interpretation (Radel 41-52).


Wigglesworth’s "The Day of Doom," published in a book of the same name (which also contains five lesser works), portrays the Judgment Day as a harsh comeuppance for sinners. The tone of the work is cautionary but fierce, describing Christ’s second

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