American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)

American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)

by F. O. Matthiessen
     
 

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The tremendous explosion of formative American writing between 1835 and 1860 has come to be known to generations of readers in the last sixty years as “the American Renaissance.” It is F. O. Matthiessen’s pioneering 1941 work that coined the term and persuasively made the case for its validity.

Since then, American

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Overview

The tremendous explosion of formative American writing between 1835 and 1860 has come to be known to generations of readers in the last sixty years as “the American Renaissance.” It is F. O. Matthiessen’s pioneering 1941 work that coined the term and persuasively made the case for its validity.

Since then, American Renaissance has taken its place as the definitive treatment of that most distinguished age of our literature. Centering his discussion around five of its literary giants—Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman—Matthiessen elucidates their conceptions of nature and the function of literature, and the extent to which these were realized in their writings.

The breadth of the book lies in the author’s use of the five-year period from 1850 to 1855 as a focal point in interpreting what went before and what followed in the development of our prose and poetry. The masterpieces produced in this one extraordinarily concentrated moment of expression, and fully explored in these pages, include Representative Men, Walden, The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, Moby-Dick, Pierre, and Leaves of Grass.

The product of ten years’ research and thought, American Renaissance displays that combination of insight, passion, and honesty that made Matthiessen a great teacher and critic. With the writing and publication of this book, Matthiessen himself created a sort of founding document—a critical synthesis of the true take-off period of American culture.

Praise for American Renaissance:

“Perhaps the most profound work of literary criticism on historical principles by a modern American.”—The Saturday Review

 

“Indispensable to those who are tired of having their knowledge of American literature and culture ladled out in convenient theories. For it is more than a work of esthetic criticism; it is an extraordinarily sound and unusual introduction to our understanding of American character and development.”—New York Herald Tribune Book Review

“Mr. Matthiessen has brought to light a rich and complex period…his comments on language and style, in addition to being discerning as criticism, become finally profound reflections on 19th-century American society.”—Daniel Aaron, Kenyon Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781435108509
Publisher:
Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
06/15/2009
Series:
Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series
Pages:
768
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.30(d)

Meet the Author

F. O. Matthiessen (1902–1950) began his teaching career at Yale and in 1929 moved to Harvard, where at the time of his death he was professor of History and Literature. He was also a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and a Senior Fellow of the Kenyon School of English. Matthiessen’s other books include The Achievement of T. S. Eliot and The James Family.

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