American Romanticism: Volume 1: From Cooper to Hawthorne by David Morse PDF
By David Morse
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Additional resources for American Romanticism: Volume 1: From Cooper to Hawthorne
When he is threatened with death by Dunwoodie he insists that 'Washington can see beyond the hollow views of pretended patriots' (p. 207), and, while both he and Harvey are finally vindicated, the role of the narrative is precisely to reassert that confidence whilst appearing to undermine it. Like Kierkegaard's religious hero, Harvey places himself totally in the hands of God and Washington; in his existential terror he has no other relationships: 'No- no, I am alone truly-none know me but my God and Him' (p.
Yet these heroes and heroines share in the didacticism of American culture; they do not represent everyday people with their faults and failings but are the signs and portents of a transcendental human spirit that can break through all limitations that thwart it or encompass it. They belong to an American hagiography in which the reader with a sharpened moral perception can apprehend their greatness more vividly than the figures who surround them in the fictional world; just as saints stand finally clear of the historical turmoil that surrounds them.
Yet his children were to become its leading lights. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her enormously influential novel Uncle Tom's Cabin to dramatise both the justice and urgency of the cause. Her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, was a leading campaigner against it, both in lecture halls and from the pulpit. Yet Lyman Beecher was accused of heresy within his own Church. To the saving remnant even Beecher was excessive, but in a few decades the outlook of Boston in the 1820s had been left so very far behind that it seemed as though America marched forward on seven-league boots.
American Romanticism: Volume 1: From Cooper to Hawthorne by David Morse