New England Mind / Edition 1

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Overview

The late Perry Miller once stated, "I have been compelled to insist that the mind of man is the basic factor in human history," and his study of the mind in America has shaped the thought of three decades of scholars.

The fifteen essays here collected--several of them previously unpublished--address themselves to facets of the American consciousness and to their expression in literature from the time of the Cambridge Agreement to the Nobel Prize acceptance speeches of Hemingway and Faulkner. A companion volume to Errand into the Wilderness, its general theme is one adumbrated in Mr. Miller's two-volume masterpiece, The New England Mind--the thrust of civilization into the vast, empty continent and its effect upon Americans' concept of themselves as "nature's nation."

The essays first concentrate on Puritan covenant theology and its gradual adaptation to changing conditions in America: the decline in zeal for a "Bible commonwealth," the growth of trade and industy, and the necessity for coexisting with large masses of unchurched people. As the book progresses, the emphasis shifts from religion to the philosophy of nature to the development of an original literature, although Mr. Miller is usually analyzing simultaneously all three aspects of the American quest for self-identity. In the final essays, he shows how the forces that molded the self-conscious articulateness of the early New Englanders still operate in the work of contemporary American writers.

The introduction to this collection is by Kenneth Murdock, Francis Lee Higginson Professor of English Literature, Emeritus, Harvard University, who, with Perry Miller and Samuel Eliot Morison, accomplished what has been called "one of the great historical re-evaluations of this generation."

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Editorial Reviews

H. Richard Niebuhr
A magnificent book, the most illuminating and convincing interpretation of Puritanism that I know and a model example of intellectual historiography. Miller seems to possess a rare combination of gifts and acquired intellectual virtues--disciplined faithfulness to sources, philosophical insight and outlook, creative imagination.
Henry Nash Smith
The New England Mind is an authoritative description of Puritanism, the most subtle and most fully coherent intellectual system which has ever functioned as the official code of an American regional society...The book is the best single illustration of what is meant by "the history of ideas" as a method of dealing with American materials.
James Hoopes
This classic work towers over the great mass of subsequent scholarship, and remains after forty years our single best work on American Puritanism... For many years to come every serious student of American Puritanism will still have to begin by reading The New England Mind.
Saturday Review
A fascinating and indispensable book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674613010
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/1983
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents

PART 1: RELIGION AND LEARNING

1. The Augustinian Strain of Piety

2. The Practice of Piety

3. The Intellectual Character

4. The Intellectual Heritage

PART 2: COSMOLOGY

5. The Instrument of Reason

6. Knowledge

7. The Uses of Reason

8. Nature

PART 3: ANTHROPOLOGY

9. The Nature of Man

10. The Means of Conversion

11. Rhetoric

12. The Plain Style

PART 4: SOCIOLOGY

13. The Covenant of Grace

14. The Social Covenant

15. The Church Covenant

16. God's Controversy with New England

Appendix A. The Literature of Ramus' Logic in Europe

Appendix B. The Federal School of Theology

Notes

Index

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