The Function of Form, Fiction, and Faith in Elisabeth Elliot’s Life Writing


  • Mareike Zapp Justus-Liebig-University Giessen



Life Writing, Fiction, Author, Faith, Elisabeth Elliot


This article explores the role of form, fiction, and faith in the formulation of the self in the life writing of U.S.-American writer and missionary Elisabeth Elliot. Her novel No Graven Image“ (1966) depicts the experiences of an unmarried female missionary who encounters personal and professional difficulties in Ecuador. Parallels between the novel’s content and Elliot’s past experiences as recorded in her journals and her memoir These Strange Ashes“ (1975) raise the question whether the fictional genre can fulfill an autobiographical function. In this regard, the article investigates the influence of the writer’s present circumstances on the writing process and asks whether Elliot’s writer’s block, which she outlines in her journal, plays into the composition and language of the novel. The literary examination reveals the impact of Elliot’s faith in negotiating her self in different genres.

Author Biography

Mareike Zapp, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen

Mareike Zapp is a Ph.D. student at the Justus-Liebig University in Gießen. She works on transcultural influences in life writing with a specific focus on Elisabeth Elliot’s work (supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ansgar Nünning). Zapp has been a member of the Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture in Gießen since 2016. She studied in the American Studies program at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and at Mississippi College in Clinton, MS, receiving her master’s degree in 2015. Her research interests include spirituality and fiction, life writing, and transculturalism in American literature.




How to Cite

Zapp, Mareike. “The Function of Form, Fiction, and Faith in Elisabeth Elliot’s Life Writing”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, July 2017, doi:10.5283/copas.277.