The Cambridge History of American Literature, Volume 2: Prose Writing, 1820-1865

The Cambridge History of American Literature, Volume 2: Prose Writing, 1820-1865

Sacvan Bercovitch

Language: English

Pages: 881

ISBN: 2:00086943

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The narratives in this volume make for a four-fold perspective on literature: social, cultural, intellectual, and aesthetic; they constitute a basic reassessment of American prose-writing between 1820 and 1865. These narratives place the American literature in an international context, while never losing sight of its distinctive American characteristics, whether colonial, provincial, or national. Together, they offer a compelling and comprehensive revision of the literary importance of early American history and the historical value of early American literature.

"...the general editor has assembled four sophisticated contributions that reassess the remarkable achievemant of the period....the book's four sections are a hand difficult to beat for an overview of antebellum prose....all four scholars demonstrate themselves in full control of general methodologies as well as the range of prose literature germane to them." Reviews in American History

"...Cambridge University Press continues to remake scholarly standards in the study of American literature....These essays are smart and remarkably rich in historical detail....The Cambridge History of American Literature earns its place on the offering the reader far more detail about early American life and letters than any other single source." Peter Temes, Harvard Review

"...a real strength of this literary history is that its main focus is on literature rather than history....I still go to literature to learn about myself." Stephen Railton, Nineteenth-Century Literature

"...each of the essays is a wide-ranging monograph, citing numerous authors and drawing upon the historical, intellectual, political, and economic traditions to which they respond....The result is a rich tapestry in which these four scholars speak to each other to provide a multifaceted view of a crucial forty-five years of American literary history....I'm keeping this book within reach as an indispensable resource." Nancy A. Walker, American Studies

"The Cambridge History of American Literature [...] is, without doubt and without any serious rival, THE scholarly history for our generation." --Journal of American Studies

Book Description

This is the fullest and richest account of the American Renaissance available in any literary history. The narratives in this volume made for a four-fold perspective on literature: social, cultural, intellectual and aesthetic. Together these constitute a basic reassessment of American prose-writing between 1820 and 1865. It is an achievement that will remain authoritative for our time and that will set new directions for coming decades in American literary scholarship. (Amazon)



















comments appear in his The Conspiracy of Pontiac (1851), which played a large role in fixing the idea of Indian "doom" as part of American's prevailing mythology for the rest of the century. His careful identification of Indians with the natural world — both doomed to defeat and cultivation by a greater race — is representative of white concep- FRONTIER AND AMERICAN INDIANS 179 tions of the Indian's quasi-human form, as is his equally careful paternalistic imagery: "We look with deep interest

increasingly popular as subjects of American cultural expression and academic research. The absorption of the figure of the Indian into America's mythic consciousness, a process begun with the narratives of captivity and Indian warfare in the colonial period, was accelerated in the nineteenth century. Indian chiefs or heroes could become celebrities once they were no longer threatening as warriors, and whole tribes could be portrayed as virtuous and tragic to a public that had already been

makes more sense to identify Melville with an antidomestic American tradition. After all, such books as Redburn (1849), White-Jacket (1850), and Moby-Dick (1851) avoid women and domesticity almost entirely, and Pierre (1852) becomes, among other things, an all-out attack on the domestic. Yet Pierre was apparently begun as an effort to court the very audience it ended up alienating. Melville told Sophia Hawthorne in 1852 that the successor to Moby-Dick would be "a rural bowl of milk," and he

virtues for ages to come." Americans, he added, who "have grown up in the bowers of a paradise," in "the country of the Future," must therefore be educated in the arts of engineering, architecture, scientific agriculture, and minerology. Like Melville's Ahab, he envisioned the paradisal garden of America vitalized by mechanical technology: "Railroad iron is a magician's rod, in its power to evoke the sleeping energies of land and water." Emerson's characteristic location of the idealistic

set in a moral framework in which self-discovery and national character were synonymous. A staunch advocate for the West who ranks with Ashley as a promoter of expansion, the New England merchant Hall J. Kelley issued pamphlets such as "A General Circular to All Persons of Good Character Who Wish to Emigrate to the Oregon Territory" (1831), which helped to set in motion the settlement of Oregon and California. In a variety of publications and petitions to Congress, Kelley called for the swift

Download sample