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The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance [NOOK Book]

Overview

"The term "Western esotericism" refers to a wide range of spiritual currents including alchemy, Hermeticism, Kabbala, Rosicrucianism, and Christian theosophy. There are also various practical forms of esotericism including forms of divination like cartomancy, geomancy, and necromancy, as well as alchemy, astrology, herbalism, and magic. All of these were widespread in Western Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and made their way to the New World with the colonists. The early presence of esotericism in North America has been
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The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance

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Overview

"The term "Western esotericism" refers to a wide range of spiritual currents including alchemy, Hermeticism, Kabbala, Rosicrucianism, and Christian theosophy. There are also various practical forms of esotericism including forms of divination like cartomancy, geomancy, and necromancy, as well as alchemy, astrology, herbalism, and magic. All of these were widespread in Western Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and made their way to the New World with the colonists. The early presence of esotericism in North America has been studied very little, and even less so the indebtedness to esotericism of some major American literary figures. Here, Arthur Versluis breaks new ground, showing that many writers of the American Renaissance drew extensively on and were inspired by Western esoteric currents. Thus he demonstrates that Alcott and Emerson were indebted to Hermeticism, Christian theosophy, and Neoplatonism; Fuller to alchemy and Rosicrucianism; Hawthorne to alchemy; and Melville to Gnosticism. In addition to offering a detailed analysis of the esoteric elements in the writings of figures from the American Renaissance, Versluis presents an overview of esotericism in Europe and its offshoots in colonial America. This innovative work will interest students and scholars of religion, literature, American studies, and esotericism."--BOOK JACKET.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An excellent book and one worthy to be consulted by all scholars of nineteenth-century American literary and religious culture." —Religious Studies Review

"[G]roundbreaking...His analysis and scholarship are as fascinating as a treasure hunt."—The Quest

"This useful and fascinating...corrective to conventional understandings of the influences and impulses of various American Renaissance figures is recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above."—Choice

"[H]e provides readers with an impressive introduction to the subject, one that well deserves John Gatta's dust jacket praise of his volume as " a learned, authoritative, and genuinely original contribution."—Religion and the Arts

"Brings to light a revealing dimension of nineteenth-century American literary culture that has too often been relegated to footnotes or passed over in somewhat embarrassed silence by twentieth-century literary critics. . . . brings to light a fascinating dimension of early American literary culture."—Journal of Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195350043
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/8/2001
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 396 KB

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3
2 European Esoteric Currents 8
3 Esotericism in Early America 21
4 The Esoteric Ambience of the American Renaissance 53
5 Hitchcock 64
6 Poe 72
7 Hawthorne 81
8 Melville 91
9 Greaves 105
10 Alcott 115
11 Emerson 124
12 Fuller 147
13 Whitman 157
14 Dickinson 171
15 The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance 183
Notes 193
Bibliography 217
Index 231
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