Boston: Voices and Visions

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"New England was founded consciously, and in no fit of absence of mind," observed historian Samuel Eliot Morison on the establishment of the Bay Colony in 1630. Since then, Boston has been shaped and sustained by observation, imagination, and interpretation, yielding a compelling literary record. In this wide-ranging anthology, Shaun O'Connell offers a generous sampling of those who have recorded, revised, and redefined the vision of Boston, including preachers, politicians, poets, novelists, essayists, and diarists.

From John Winthrop's "city upon a hill" sermon, delivered aboard the Arbella before the first settlers landed, to Robert Lowell's "For the Union Dead," a poem delivered in Boston's Public Garden in 1960, writers have continued to invoke the high purposes for which the city was founded, sometimes in praise, but often by calling attention to the city's failures to fulfill its promises. In the twenty-first century some writers continue to celebrate or to castigate the city, while others look back to Boston's origins to reassess its founders and renew its covenant of high purpose.

This is an interpretive anthology-one that includes commentary as well as writings. Rather than present a random array of writers who happen to have been Greater Bostonians, O'Connell focuses on those authors who possessed a commitment to the sense of place, those who addressed Boston not only as a geographical, social, and political entity but as an image, idea, and site of symbolic values.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558498204
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents



I Boston, From Winthrop To Hawthorne 1

(1588-1649), from "A Model of Christian Charity" (1630) John Winthrop Winthrop, John 14

(1612-1672), "Before the Birth of One of Her Children" (1678) & "Meditations Divine and Moral" #53 (1867) Anne Bradstreet Bradstreet, Anne 16

(1706-1790), from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1771) Benjamin Franklin Franklin, Benjamin 18

(1753-1784): "On Being Brought from Africa to America" (1733) & "To The University of Cambridge, in New England" (1773) Phillis Wheatley Wheatley, Phillis 23

(1744-1818), 1775-1776 letters to John Adams (1735-1826) Abigail Adams Adams, Abigail 24

(1804-1864), "The Prison Door," from The Scarlet Letter (1850) Nathaniel Hawthorne Hawthorne, Nathaniel 27

(1809-1894), "The Deacon's Masterpiece; or The Wonderful 'One Hoss Shay' (1858) Oliver Wendell Holmes Holmes, Oliver Wendell 28

II Boston And The American Renaissance Oliver Wendell Holmes Holmes, Oliver Wendell 32

(1807-1882), "Paul Revere's Ride" (1863) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth 53

"Old Ironsides" (1831) & "The Last Leaf" (1831) Oliver Wendell Holmes Holmes, Oliver Wendell 57

(1823-1911), "Letter to a Young Contributor" (1862) Thomas Wentworth Higginson Higginson, Thomas Wentworth 60

(1803-1882), "Concord Hymn" (1837) & "Boston Hymn" (1863) Ralph Waldo Emerson Emerson, Ralph Waldo 63

(1832-1882), from "How I Went Out to Service" (1874) Louisa May Alcott Alcott, Louisa May 67

(1817-1881), from "Hawthorne," Yesterdays with Authors (1871) James T. Fields Fields, James T. 74

(1834-1915), from "Oliver Wendell Holmes: Personal Recollections and Unpublished Letters," Authors and Friends (1896) Annie Fields Fields, Annie 78

(1873-1947), from "148 Charles Street," Not Under Forty (1936) Willa Cather Cather, Willa 81

III Post civil War Boston Willa Cather Cather, Willa 86

(1838-1918), from The Education of Henry Adams (1906, 1918) Henry Adams Adams, Henry 100

(1835-1910), "The Whittier Birthday Dinner Speech" (1877) Mark Twain Twain, Mark 107

(1837-1920), from Literary Friends and Acquaintance (1900) & The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) William Dean Howells Howells, William Dean 111

(1843-1916), from The Bostonians (1886) Henry James James, Henry 117

IV "Viewed In Boston Light": Turn-Of-The-Century Boston Henry James James, Henry 127

(1841-1935), from "Dead Yet Living: An Address Delivered at Keene, N.H. Memorial Day, May 30, 1884" (1884) Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr 145

(1862-1937), from "The Lamp of Psyche" (1895) Edith Wharton Wharton, Edith 151

(1863-1952), from Persons and Places: Fragments of Autobiography (1944) George Santayana Santayana, George 156

(1893-1960), from The Late George Apley: A Novel in the Form of a Memoir (1937) John P. Marquand Marquand, John P. 158

(1888-1965), "The Boston Evening Transcript" (1917) & "Cousin Nancy" (1917) T.S. Eliot Eliot, T. S. 164

(1850-1898), from Looking Backward (1888) Edward Bellamy Bellamy, Edward 165

(1917-1998), from The Proper Bostonians (1947) Cleveland Amory Amory, Cleveland 171

V The "Other" Bostonians: New Voices And Visions Cleveland Amory Amory, Cleveland 175

(1838-1914), from her Journal (1854) Charlotte Forten Grimke Grimke, Charlotte Forten 203

(1868-1963), from "A Negro Student at Harvard" (1960) W.E.B. Du Bois Du Bois, W. E. B. 204

(1907-1998), from The Living IS Easy (1948) Dorothy West West, Dorothy 210

(1925-1965); (1921-1992) from The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) Alex Haley Haley, Alex 219

(1878-1962), from "I Saw Frederick Douglass" (1948) & "Quiet Has a Hidden Sound" (1948) William Stanley Braithwaite Braithwaite, William Stanley 222

(1844-1890), from "The Exile of the Gael" (1887) & "The Fame of the City" (1881) John Boyle O'Reilly O'Reilly, John Boyle 225

(1933-1997), from Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families (1985) J. Anthony Lukas Lukas, J. Anthony 228

(1918-1968), from The Last Hurrah (1956) Edwin O'Connor O'Connor, Edwin 231

(1894-1956), from his Letters (1935) Fred Allen Allen, Fred 240

(1939-1999), from The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1972) George V. Higgins Higgins, George V. 241

(1966 ), from All Souls: A Family Story from Southie (1999) Michael Patrick MacDonald MacDonald, Michael Patrick 245

(1881-1949), from The Promised Land (1912) Mary Antin Antin, Mary 246

(1925 ), from Boston Boy (1986) Nat Hentoff Hentoff, Nat 256

(1953 ), from In Revere, in Those Days (2002) Roland Merullo Merullo, Roland 258

VI "There It Was": Boston, City Of Self And Spirit Roland Merullo Merullo, Roland 263

(1895-1963), from The Inman Diary: A Public and Private Confession (1920, 1938) Arthur C. Inman Inman, Arthur C. 284

(1887-1976), from One Boy's Boston (1962) Samuel Eliot Morison Morison, Samuel Eliot 285

(1917-1977), from "91 Revere Street" (1959) & "For the Union Dead" (1960) Robert Lowell Lowell, Robert 293

(1932 ), from Returning: A Spiritual Journey (1985) Dan Wakefield Wakefield, Dan 298

(1932-2009), "Personal Considerations: Why Do I Live in New England?" (1999) John Updike Updike, John 300

(1959 ), Introduction, American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson (2004) Eve LaPlante LaPlante, Eve 301

(1892-1983), "Night Watch in the City of Boston" (1975) Archibald MacLeish MacLeish, Archibald 307

(1966 ), from "A Literary Landscape: From Jamaica to Boston" (2004) Patricia Powell Powell, Patricia 310

Notes Patricia Powell Powell, Patricia 315

Sources Patricia Powell Powell, Patricia 331

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