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by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
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  • Author:
    Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
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    British Library, Historical Print Editions (March 17, 2011)
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    292 pages
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Her career is an illustration of the capacity of woman under stress of sorrow to conquer the world and be successful. Many of the plots of her stories.

Her career is an illustration of the capacity of woman under stress of sorrow to conquer the world and be successful. Many of the plots of her stories are laid in Scotland and England. The scenes are from her girlhood recollection of surroundings.

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Title: Prisoners of Conscience.Publisher: British Library, Historical Print EditionsThe British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom. It is one of the world's largest research libraries holding over 150 million items in all known languages and formats: books, journals, newspapers, sound recordings, patents, maps, stamps, prints and much more. Its collections include around 14 million books, along with substantial additional collections of manuscripts and historical items dating back as far as 300 BC.The FICTION & PROSE LITERATURE collection includes books from the British Library digitised by Microsoft. The collection provides readers with a perspective of the world from some of the 18th and 19th century's most talented writers. Written for a range of audiences, these works are a treasure for any curious reader looking to see the world through the eyes of ages past. Beyond the main body of works the collection also includes song-books, comedy, and works of satire. ++++The below data was compiled from various identification fields in the bibliographic record of this title. This data is provided as an additional tool in helping to insure edition identification:++++<Source Library> British Library<Contributors> Barr, Amelia Edith Huddleston; <Original Pub Date> 1897.<Physical Description> 240 p. ; 8º.<Shelfmark> 012628.n.16.

A study in Calvinism and the dilemma of predestination, sin and suffering. In the end God's love is sufficient yet incomprehensible.
Overall, the story is exceptionally well told, original, Christian, and of a refreshingly creative quality. It raises in my mind two compelling questions every person of conscience asks him- or herself: is redemption equally open to all? And: what action is good allowed to take against evil? Violent internal conflicts arise between faith and fate, between legalism and grace, and between duty and dignity. These conflicts generate powerful crises in the lives of the more respectable characters. It is, however, the realm of conscience which is the central battleground for the mind of the story's main characters: Liot and David Borson.

Thesis: Without giving too much away and just to set up the background, the story centers on the psychological and spiritual development of two men. The first is Liot Borson, a handsome but financially meager raconteur-peasant in Lerwick, Scotland. Liot is a man plagued by deep sadness and cruel conscience but finds love in Karen Sabiston. The fulfillment of their love, however, is doomed from its inception both by a haughty aunt and a lecherous visiting sea-captain. I initially thought that this relationship between Liot and Karen would be the subject of the book, but it is rather only one of several events portraying the dark internal struggle within Liot, a battle between tribal indignation and Calvinist forbearance.
The second man is David Borson, Liot's son. David in many ways is the "second chance" of his father's mistakes, as he is prisoner to the same (but in a different isomorphism) cruel conscience and fate which tormented his father. Much of the remainder of the story is reminiscent of Robert Service's poem "The Men Who Don't Fit In", in that neither Liot nor David is comfortable in his own skin, and each suffers from the emulsion of Calvinistic arrogance with ignorance and shame.

Analysis: Barr makes repetitive interesting circular use of metaphor. First, Liot is fond of telling the story of the mythical Gisli, who was an atavistic hero in the Norwegian (his ancestral race) Bor. Gisli was a brave but ungrateful warrior predestined to endless misfortune, forming a type for Liot. Further, events in both Liot's and David's hearts seem to parallel those in later life. For instance, in a reverse Picture-of-Dorian-Gray sense, Liot's sanctimonious suppression of guilt in the early phase of the story eventually destroys something incredibly precious in real life. The parallel between morality and destiny has strong cross-pollination with prophecy in the Old Testament of future captivity or liberty in exchange for Israel's obedience.

Style: has an old English vibe to it. Every five or six sentences are constructed in a kind of KJV syntax, which despite having been written in 1897 is slightly peevish ("life-days" instead of "life", "good sleep" instead of "good night", etc.) but this odd syntax helps describe the universe Barr imagined. There are few adjectives and adverbs (a mark of quality writing). Also, a good balance between narration and dialogue is present, and for those who love wisdom, there is plenty of it here in almost Solomonic form. The story cultivates the humanity in the reader, and the story it presents is so well written it brought tears to my eyes more than once, but it is in the end proportionately redeeming. This bittersweet aspect of the plot is such a verisimilitude to life itself that it's easy to lose yourself in the pages as if you were there.