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From the PublisherFrom his friendships with Emerson and Carlyle to his influence on the Pre-Raphaelite and Ruskinian movements, the American man of letters Charles Eliot Norton played an important role in the cultural cross-pollination that so enriched Britain and the United States in the 19th century. Drawing on unpublished portions of his journals, Dowling shows a man bereft of religious faith struggling to develop a principled ethic of civic liberalism in contrast to the predominant values of the Gilded Age. He was censured during his lifetime for his opposition to the Spanish-American War, but more than a century later he stands out as a lodestar of opposition to the excesses and coarseness characteristic of his age--and, unfortunately, of our own." --Atlantic Monthly
The structure of [Dowling's] concise, lucid introduction to Norton's remarkably multifaceted career reinforces an implicit argument of the book: that Norton is a figure who deserves the attention of nonspecialists . . . Dowling's arguments should prove useful in stimulating further investigation of the disputes in which she weighs in on Norton's side . . . her slim volume more than sufficiently establishes its premise that Norton is a figure worthy of the general public's attention."
--New England Quarterly
"Dowling's wide-ranging and learned study brilliantly analyzes the intellectual and cultural context within which Norton acted. It is based on meticulous research in Norton's manuscript journals and other archival sources, and her prose is often elegant . . . Her biography sheds valuable light on an important and often misunderstood man who spoke eloquently and forcefully to the hopes and anxieties of Americans during the last two-thirds of the nineteenth century. Her study belongs on the shelf of everyone who seeks to understand the complex interaction between art and politics in mid- and late nineteenth-century America." --Journal of American History
"Dowling clearly admires her subject for his intellect, probity, and courage, but does not overlook his shortcomings . . . this is a solid, well-written, and important contribution to scholarship."--Choice