Read alsoThe New Historicism
Following Clifford Geertz and other cultural anthropologists, the New Historicist critics have evolved a method for describing culture in action. Their "thick descriptions" seize upon an event or anecdote – colonist John Rolfe's conversation with Pocohontas's father, a note found among Nietzsche's papers to the effect that "I have lost my…
But then a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren’s long-lost brother, and his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand and his parents persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy and to give Ren some hope. But is Benjamin really who he says he is? Journeying through a New England of whaling towns and meadowed farmlands, Ren is introduced to a vibrant world of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves. If he stays, Ren becomes one of them. If he goes, he’s lost once again. As Ren begins to find clues to his hidden parentage he comes to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well.
From the Hardcover edition.