American Romanticism and the Marketplace

Overview

"This book can take its place on the shelf beside Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land and Leo Marx's The Machine in the Garden."—Choice

"[Gilmore] demonstrates the profound, sustained, engagement with society embodied in the works of Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau and Melville. In effect, he relocates the American Renaissance where it properly belongs, at the centre of a broad social, economic, and ideological movement from the Jacksonian era to the Civil War. Basically, Gilmore's ...

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American Romanticism and the Marketplace

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Overview

"This book can take its place on the shelf beside Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land and Leo Marx's The Machine in the Garden."—Choice

"[Gilmore] demonstrates the profound, sustained, engagement with society embodied in the works of Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau and Melville. In effect, he relocates the American Renaissance where it properly belongs, at the centre of a broad social, economic, and ideological movement from the Jacksonian era to the Civil War. Basically, Gilmore's argument concerns the writers' participation in what Thoreau called 'the curse of trade.' He details their mixed resistance to and complicity in the burgeoning literary marketplace and, by extension, the entire ' economic revolution' which between 1830 and 1860 'transformed the United States into a market society'. . . .

"The result is a model of literary-historical revisionism. Gilmore's opening chapters on Emerson and Thoreau show that 'transcendental' thought and language can come fully alive when understood within the material processes and ideological constraints of their time. . . . The remaining five chapters, on Hawthorne and Melville, contain some of the most penetrating recent commentaries on the aesthetic strategies of American Romantic fiction, presented within and through some of the most astute, thoughtful considerations I know of commodification and the 'democratic public' in mid-nineteenth-century America. . . . Practically and methodologically, American Romanticism and the Marketplace has a significant place in the movement towards a new American literary history. It places Gilmore at the forefront of a new generation of critics who are not just reinterpreting familiar texts or discovering new texts to interpret, but reshaping our ways of thinking about literature and culture."—Sacvan Bercovitch, Times Literary Supplement

"Gilmore writes with energy, clarity, and wit. The reader is enriched by this book." William H. Shurr, American Literature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226293967
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1988
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 5.39 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Emerson and the Persistence of the Commodity
2. Walden and the "Curse of Trade"
3. Hawthorne, Melville, and the Democratic Public
4. To Speak in the Marketplace: The Scarlet Letter
5. The Artist and the Marketplace in The House of the Seven Gables
6. Selling One's Head: Moby-Dick
7. "Bartleby, the Scrivener" and the Transformation of the Economy
Afterword
Notes
Index

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