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Showing papers in "American Literature in 1985"



MonographDOI
TL;DR: The authors examines the Indian autobiography as a specific genre of American writing, drawing on the life stories of Native Americans solicited by historians during the 19th century and, later, by anthropologists concerned with amplifying the cultural record.
Abstract: Drawing on the life stories of Native Americans solicited by historians during the 19th century and, later, by anthropologists concerned with amplifying the cultural record, Arnold Krupat examines the Indian autobiography as a specific genre of American writing.

134 citations



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In the wake of all the new information about the literary production of women, Blacks, Native Americans, ethnic minorities, and gays and lesbians, all prior literary histories are rendered partial, inadequate, and obsolete.
Abstract: T is a propitious moment to be rewriting the literary history of the United States. Two decades of unprecedented scholarship and criticism have excavated lost authors for our reconsideration, delineated literary traditions of which we had been previously unaware, and raised probing questions about the very processes by which we canonize, valorize, and select the texts to be remembered. In the wake of all the new information about the literary production of women, Blacks, Native Americans, ethnic minorities, and gays and lesbians; and with new ways of analyzing popular fiction, non-canonical genres, and working-class writings, all prior literary histories are rendered partial, inadequate, and obsolete. One might well conclude, therefore, that these are sufficient reasons for two major university presses committing their considerable resources to the displacement of Robert E. Spiller and Willard Thorp's Literary History of the United States (that monumental pony upon which generations of American literature graduate students, from I948 on, rode to their Ph.D. orals).' But something besides the new scholarship may also be in the air. The coincidence of Columbia and Cambridge University Presses independently deciding to embark on new literary histories of the United States may reflect, as well, the rhetorical mood of the nation in the I98os. Let us consider, after all, that the eighties were to be the decade of healing and consolidation. With the volatile I960s, the Vietnam War, and the Watergate scandals supposedly

31 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, a comprehensive account of Jefferson's religious thought is presented, one that provides information about his beliefs and practices that will help remove any misconceptions about his religious life, including the fact that he was deeply interested in religious questions.
Abstract: In this new study we have a comprehensive account of Jefferson's religious thought, one that provides information about his beliefs and practices that will help remove any misconceptions about his religious life.Jefferson has long been recognized as a creative thinker ahead of his time. As this book makes clear, he was deeply interested in religious questions that the passing years have made more important. Beyond such obvious issues as war and peace, social justice, and racism, he confronted religious and theological problems that have increasingly concerned later religious thinkers.

30 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A UNC Press Enduring Edition as mentioned in this paper is a collection of books from the distinguished backlist of the University of North Carolina Press that were previously out of print, and is available in affordable paperback formats.
Abstract: Girgus defines the American idea as the set of values, beliefs, and traditions of democracy, equality, and republicanism and argues that writers of the New Covenant tradition challenged society to live up to its own imperatives for individual and cultural renewal. Abraham Cahan, Anzi Yezierska, Henry Roth, Johanna Kaplan, Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow, and E. L. Doctorow formed a new poetics" to articulate a modern version of the myth and ideology of America."Originally published in 1984.A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.

26 citations



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Yellow Wallpaper as mentioned in this paper is a short story that depicts the mental collapse of a woman undergoing a "rest cure" at the hands of her physician husband, which was published in the New England Magazine and then later in Howells' own collection, Great Modern American Stories, where he introduced it as "terrible and too wholly dire," and "too terribly good to be printed."
Abstract: I I890 William Dean Howells sent a copy of "The Yellow Wallpaper" to Horace Scudder, editor of the Atlantic Monthly. Scudder gave his reason for not publishing the story in a short letter to its author, Charlotte Perkins Stetson (later to become Charlotte Perkins Gilman): "Dear Madam, Mr. Howells has handed me this story. I could not forgive myself if I made others as miserable as I have made myself!"' Gilman persevered, however, and eventually the story, which depicts the mental collapse of a woman undergoing a "rest cure" at the hands of her physician husband, was printed in the New England Magazine and then later in Howells' own collection, Great Modern American Stories, where he introduces it as "terrible and too wholly dire," and "too terribly good to be printed."2 Despite (or perhaps because of) such praise, the story was virtually ignored for over fifty years until Elaine Hedges called attention to its virtues, praising it as "a small literary masterpiece."3 Today the work is highly spoken of by those who have read it, but it is not widely known and has been slow to appear in anthologies of American literature. Some of the best criticism attempts to explain this neglect as a case of misinterpretation by audiences used to "traditional" literature. Annette Kolodny, for example, points out that though nineteenth-century readers had learned to "follow the fictive processes of aberrant perception and mental breakdown" by reading Poe's tales, they were not prepared to understand a tale of

20 citations



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examines James from the perspectives of the psychology of literary influence, feminism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, literary phenomenology and impressionism, transforming a literary monument into the telling point of intersection for modern critical theories.
Abstract: Rowe examines James from the perspectives of the psychology of literary influence, feminism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, literary phenomenology and impressionism, and reader-response criticism, transforming a literary monument into the telling point of intersection for modern critical theories.

18 citations



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Douglass was himself aware of this emphasis as he makes clear in the final version of the autobiography, Life as discussed by the authors, and the passage continues, "A want of information concerning my own [birthday] was a source of unhappiness to me even during childhood" (p. 23).
Abstract: meaning based upon Douglass' particular experience. As generalization and abstraction it expresses the public focus; its full meaning, however, depends upon its grounding in the facts of Douglass' life preceding it. The fourth sentence is a personal statement emanating from the private perspective, repeating and buttressing the truth of the generalization again by placing it within the confines of his own experience. Here the two perspectives are not at war but rather mutually supportive, for the complete meaning even of the factuality of the first two sentences depends upon their contextual meaning. The passage continues, "A want of information concerning my own [birthday] was a source of unhappiness to me even during childhood. The white children could tell their ages. I could not tell why I ought to be deprived of the same privilege" (p. 23). The passage, expressive of the private focus in that it directly concerns the private, inner feelings of the narrator, implies the public focus, for underlying the statement is the narrator's knowledge that readers will share his belief that one should be able to tell one's age. No proper, just or moral system, the logic runs, deprives humans of the knowledge of the dates of their birth; I am human; therefore. . . . The statement expresses the private perspective; its logic expresses the public. The two are again melded, though logically separable. The same balancing strategy obtains again when Douglass writes about his separation from his mother, the personal statement of biographical fact balanced by its generalized meaning in the context of slavery. This content downloaded from 157.55.39.208 on Fri, 14 Oct 2016 04:11:17 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms Frederick Douglass' Narrative 5 5 3 My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant-before I knew her as my mother. It is a common custom, in the part of the land from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age. Frequently before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor. . . . I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more than four or five times in my life; and each of these times was very short in duration, and at night. (p. 24) Note that the passage begins with the personal perspective, generalizes about practices during slavery, then returns to a personal vantage point. This practice prevails throughout most of the Narrative, its function being two-fold: to sustain balance between the public and private focus; and to ground abstractions about the evils of slavery in the specific, concrete experience of one person, thus rendering the argument more vivid and more convincing than abstract discourse alone could likely make it. The method is analogous to some grand metaphor: the tenor, slavery; the vehicle, the facts of Douglass' life. Thoreau's method in Walden is similar in that he constantly moves back and forth between the concrete and the abstract, between the particularities of his own experiences and the wider implications generated therefrom. Such strategies are not uncommon in slave narratives, the difference being that Douglass is so intensely engaged in the abolitionist cause that he could not for a moment allow his story to give way to adventure for adventure's sake, adventure intended to entertain readers; he could not allow a plot to govern the rendition of his narrative except in the most general way. Douglass moves from slavery to freedom, but his emphasis is far more on the psychological journey than on the physical one. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is an accurate title in that it points to the broad span of his life, most of which was spent in slavery, rather than to the escape itself, which, it becomes clear, is not the central issue. Douglass was himself aware of this emphasis as he makes clear in the final version of the autobiography, Life and Times.7 "The abolition of slavery in my native State and throughout 7 Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (I892; rpt. New York: Collier, I962) hereafter referred to as Life and Times. This content downloaded from 157.55.39.208 on Fri, 14 Oct 2016 04:11:17 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 554 American Literature the country, and the lapse of time, render the caution hitherto observed [of not revealing his means of escape] no longer necessary. But even since the abolition of slavery, I have sometimes thought it well enough to baffle curiosity by saying that while slavery existed there were good reasons for not telling the manner of my escape, and since slavery had ceased to exist there was no reason for telling it" (p. I 97). His lack of interest in entertaining or satisfying the curious has a clear and definite effect on the form of the autobiography. The Narrative has only one climax, though it might be expected to have two-one internal, the other external; one in which the narrator undergoes some psychological transformation, the other in which he projects into the world through action the results of his transformation. One of these climaxes expresses the private focus of the narrative (taking place, as it does, within the psyche of the narrator); the other public, an objective, historical event. The true climax of the autobiography is the private, psychological one, explicitly revealing the formation on Douglass' part of a new consciousness, a different awareness and sense of self, and a firm resolve for the future. The other potential climax of the action, the one which should show the glorious passage of the narrator from slavery to freedom, does not occur.8 In other words the private perspective of the Narrative holds sway insofar as the plot is concerned. How can this be if the work is a "weapon in the arsenal of abolitionism"? Douglass' explanation of why he conceals his mode of escapethat telling how he escaped would increase the danger to others using that means-is quite reasonable. He reveals it in the final version of his autobiography, as noted above, but there in the context of nearly the whole span of Douglass' life (or nearly so) it cannot begin to have the impact and meaning that it would have had in the context of the Narrative alone. Its dramatic significance is drastically diminished. That the lapse of time has decreased the sense of its importance is reflected in Douglass' reluctance (even when the information can have no negative effect on anyone) to fill in the details of his actual escape. In any event, if one seeks the ' Jean Fagin Yellin notes the "psychological bias" of Douglass' Narrative; see The Intricate Knot: Black Figures in American Literature, I7 76-I863 (New York: New York Univ. Press,

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Hawthorne as mentioned in this paper wrote The Scarlet Letter in the fall of 1849, during a period of hardly accomplished revolution and still seething turmoil, in which the story shaped itself.
Abstract: W HEN Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter in the fall of A, (T I 849, the fact and idea of revolution were much on his mind. In "The Custom-House" sketch, while forewarning the reader of the darkness in the story to follow, he explains that "this uncaptivating effect is perhaps due to the period of hardly accomplished revolution and still seething turmoil, in which the story shaped itself."' His explicit reference is to his recent ouster from the Salem Custom House, his "beheading" as he calls it, but we know that the death of his mother and anxiety about where and how he would support his family added to his sense of upheaval. Lying behind all these referents, however, are additional ones that have gone unnoticed: actual revolutions, past and present, which Hawthorne had been reading about and pondering for almost twenty consecutive months. These provided the political context for The Scarlet Letter and shaped the structure, characterizations, and themes of the work.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The role of the voice of Daisy in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is explored in this article, where it is argued that the background against which she is presented and even more Fitzgerald's artful handling of the quality of her voice allow a reading of Daisy as a classical Siren.
Abstract: EVERAL readers of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby have i3 found that the voice of Daisy, a voice "full of money," helps form a central part of her characterization.2 What has not been suggested, and what seems to me to form a coherent, though certainly not exclusive reading of Daisy's role in Gatsby, is that both the backdrop against which she is presented and, even more, Fitzgerald's artful handling of the quality of her voice allow a reading of Daisy as classical Siren. As amalgamation of woman, fish, and/or bird with magically alluring voices, Sirens arise in Plato (who categorizes three kinds of siren), Aristotle, Ovid, Dante, Shakespeare, and Sir Thomas Browne. In the Septuagint (Jb. XXX.29; Isa. Xiii.2I, xxxiv.I3), Map7)VEq denote unusual, foreboding birds. In later traditions, Byron in Childe Harold (Canto iv, st.s8) speaks of "the poetry of speech," "whose sounds are song," as the "siren tongue." In his well-known sonnet "On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again," Keats likens Lear to a "fair plumed Siren" enticing him away from his responsibilities as poet. And what modern reader is unaware of Eliot's "mermaids singing, each to each," his

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Klinkowitz first characterizes the modern fiction of the earlier 20th century wherein the word fades into the background because the story line forms the essence of the fiction and thus the word is self-effacing.
Abstract: The novel is dead was the cry of the 1960s, and so it was as an authoritative report concerning the world; but from that death, Klinkowitz argues, arose a form of writing that celebrates the creative process, a narrative that is not "about "something but "is "something.Klinkowitz first characterizes the modern fiction of the earlier 20th century wherein the word fades into the background because the story line forms the essence of the fiction. Thus the word is self-effacing. Postmodern fiction, on the other hand, features the word. Words in postmodern fiction are opaque, not transparent. Of necessity we notice the word and must look closely at it; thus the word becomes self-apparent. "


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In a letter to her friend Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, a young journalist and student of French culture, Willa Cather praises a book she is reading, Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution, published in English the previous year, I9I i.
Abstract: IN a letter to her friend Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, a young journalist and student of French culture, Willa Cather praises a book she is reading, Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution, published in English the previous year, I9I i.1 The letter reveals that the two have talked about Bergson and share an enthusiasm. In her book about her friendship with Cather, often maddening to the student of biography for its inexactness, Sergeant is explicit about Cather's interest in Bergson: "Though she rejected Freud, she was a reader of Henri Bergson. Mind and invention were not her tools; the decisive element was intuitive, poetical, almost mystical perception."2 Cather alludes to Bergson only once in her published writings. In her I922 Preface to Alexander's Bridge, then being republished after ten years, Cather says that a writer must come to depend on "the thing by which our feet find the road home on a dark night, accounting to themselves for roots and stones which we had never noticed by day." She adds that "this thing" corresponds to "what Mr. Bergson calls the wisdom of intuition as opposed to intellect."3 Significantly, Cather had already used this imagery in her fiction. Antonia, talking about her mem-


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The question de l'autobiographie chez R. W. B. as mentioned in this paper : pour une reedition integrale de " American Hunger " augmentee des six dernieres pages de " B. W. B. "
Abstract: La question de l'autobiographie chez R. W. : pour une reedition integrale de " American Hunger " augmentee des six dernieres pages de " B. B. "

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Province of Piety as discussed by the authors is an analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne's fiction that responds to a wide range of sermons, pamphlets, and religious tracts and debates, a variety of moral discourses at large in the world of provincial New England.
Abstract: In this celebrated analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Michael J. Colacurcio presents a view of the author as America's first significant intellectual historian. Colacurcio shows that Hawthorne's fiction responds to a wide range of sermons, pamphlets, and religious tracts and debates--a variety of moral discourses at large in the world of provincial New England.Informed by comprehensive historical research, the author shows that Hawthorne was steeped in New England historiography, particularly the sermon literature of the seventeenth century. But, as Colacurcio shows, Hawthorne did not merely borrow from the historical texts he deliberately studied; rather, he is best understood as having written history. In \"The Province of Piety,\" originally published in 1984 (Harvard University Press), Hawthorne is seen as a moral historian working with fictional narratives--a writer brilliantly involved in examining the moral and political effects of Puritanism in America and recreating the emotional and cultural contexts in which earlier Americans had lived.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, a feminist perspective on the fiction of Cooper, Melville, Hawthorne, Twain, and James is offered, and the stereotyped portrayal of women in American literature is discussed.
Abstract: Offers a feminist perspective on the fiction of Cooper, Melville, Hawthorne, Twain, and James, and discusses the stereotyped portrayal of women in American literature.




Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For the serious student of black writers and black writing, this book is provocative and challenging, not to mention original as discussed by the authors, and if one's appetite for black literature is large, a continuous source of nourishment will be a continual source of inspiration.
Abstract: \"For the serious student of black writers and black writing, this book is provocative and challenging, not to mention original. If one's appetite for black literature is large, this book will be a continuous source of nourishment.\"-Charlayne Hunter-Gault


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Pilate is a protean character in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon as mentioned in this paper, who is outside society, often outside the laws of man, and seemingly outside of nature. But the policeman to whom she misquotes the Bible and the nephew she subtly mocks in doing so are never the wiser.
Abstract: THAT may be the gospel according to Pilate, the protean character of Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, but Saint Matthew would be confused: Pilate is misquoting and, furthermore, is referring to Matthew I9:6 or Mark io:9. But the policeman to whom she misquotes the Bible and the nephew she subtly mocks in doing so are never the wiser as this seemingly old, subservient black woman gives her bizarre explanation of why she carries around a bag of bones. We can almost hear the amused "these people" under the breath of the policeman, but we're chuckling under our breath with Pilate, because we know what she knows: that things aren't always as they seem with Pilate. In Song of Solomon, the most identifiable personality is the one with changing identities, and the most eccentric character is the most dignified. Pilate is outside society, often outside the laws of man, and seemingly outside the laws of nature, and yet she is the most reliable commentator on society, man, and nature. Because she is outside the norm she must at times take on roles to conform to society's expectations, and she is so easily protean because of her total alienation from any of these recognizable roles or identities. Nontheless, it is her awareness of these metamorphoses, it is what she knows, that allows her to maintain her dignity in any guise. This is most clear in the situation at the police station where she is called upon to rescue the two who have just stolen from her, the

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examined the role of the autobiographies in the development of James's late artistic development, and argued that A Small Boy and others (I 9 I 3) and Notes of a Son and Brother (I9I 4) form an integral part of the Jamesian oeuvres.
Abstract: IN The Ordeal of Consciousness, Dorothea Krook describes Henry James's autobiographies as "works of art of the maturest Jamesian vintage; as such they form an integral part of the Jamesian oeuvres."1 Published in I962, Krook's observation marks a significant shift in the critics' approach to A Small Boy and Others (I 9 I 3) and Notes of a Son and Brother (I9I4). For during the sixties, Jamesians began to direct at the autobiographies the kind and degree of critical scrutiny previously paid to the fiction alone. They began to discuss them as works of literary art possessing thematic patterns and narrative structures amenable to formal analysis. More recently they have begun to examine the role of the autobiographies in James's late artistic development. No longer are A Small Boy and Notes being treated as isolated ventures in the autobiographical mode, distinct from James's work in earlier phases of his career and valued primarily for the biographical data they provide about these phases. Now they are read as experiments in narrative art emerging from an autobiographical impulse that has its origins in James's technical innovations of the late I89os, as well as in his preoccupation with the "man of imagination" as an ideal subject for his fiction.2


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the Norcross family's relationship with the poet Emily Dickinson is discussed. But only one letter from Louise's pen has hitherto been known to Dickinson scholarship, a letter addressed to the editors of the Boston Woman's Journal early in her life.
Abstract: EMILY Dickinson's "little cousins" Louise and Frances Norcross were not, Richard B. Sewall surmises, "such inconsiderable people as Mabel Todd and our ignorance traditionally have them. We would like to know more about them and someday we may."' Unfortunately, most of what we do know about the Norcross cousins has been inferred from excerpts of the letters Dickinson wrote to them between I859 and i886. They reluctantly shared excerpts of these letters in the early I89os with Todd, who subsequently excoriated them for refusing to allow their entire publication.2 Louise Norcross, the more private of the pair, later arranged for the original correspondence to be destroyed at her death.3 As Jay Leyda laments, moreover, "Few of their own letters are known."4 Indeed, only one letter from Louise's pen has hitherto been known to Dickinson scholarship. Though she was Emily's intimate friend, "one of the ones from whom I do not run away,"5 so shrouded in mystery are the details of their friendship that Sewall speculates whether Louise even knew about her cousin's passion for poetry.6 The mystery is at least partly solved by the discovery of a letter addressed to the editors of the Boston Woman's Journal early in