Making America, Making American Literature: Franklin to Cooper
If 1776 heralds America's Birth of the Nation, so, too, it witnesses the rise of a matching, and overlapping, American Literature. For between the 1770s and the 1820s American writing moves on from the ancestral Puritanism of New England and Virginia - though not, as yet, into the American Renaissance so strikingly called for by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Even so, the concourse of voices which arise in this period, that is between (and including) Benjamin Franklin and James Fenimore Cooper, mark both a key transitional literary generation and yet one all too easily passed over in its own imaginative right.
This collection of fifteen specially commissioned essays seeks to establish new bearings, a revision of one of the key political and literary eras in American culture. Not only are Franklin and Cooper themselves carefully re-evaluated in the making of America's new literary republic, but figures like Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, Philip Frencau, William Cullen Bryant, the other Alexander Hamilton, and the playwrights Royall Tyler and William Dunlop. Other essays take a more inclusive perspective, whether American epistolary fiction, a first generation of American women-authored fiction, the public discourse of The Federalist Papers, the rise of the American periodical, or the founding African-American generation of Phillis Wheatley. What unites all the essays is the common assumption that the making of America was as much a matter of creating its national literature; as the making of American literature was a matter of shaping a national identity.
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Página 84 - Tis not the affair of a city, a county, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent— of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe. 'Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected even to the end of time, by the proceedings now.
Página 260 - There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower, There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree, There's a smile on the fruit and a smile on the flower, And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea. And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles On the dewy earth that smiles in his ray, On the leaping waters and gay young isles ; Ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away.
Página 31 - The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature, for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society.
Página 265 - Ah ! never shall the land forget How gushed the life-blood of her brave — Gushed, warm with hope and courage yet, Upon the soil they fought to save.
Página 166 - That Children and Apprentices were disobedient — that schools and Colleges were grown turbulent — that Indians slighted their Guardians and Negroes grew insolent to their Masters.
Página 85 - Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of* governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man ; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow.
Página 268 - Of these fair solitudes once stir with life And burn with passion? Let the mighty mounds That overlook the rivers, or that rise In the dim forest crowded with old oaks, Answer. A race, that long has passed away, Built them; - a disciplined and populous race Heaped, with long toil, the earth, while yet the Greek Was hewing the Pentelicus to forms Of symmetry, and rearing on its rock The glittering Parthenon.