Orestes Brownson: Sign of Contradiction

Overview

Orestes Brownson is a new study of a major nineteenth-century intellectual whose work spanned a critical period of American and European history. R. A. Herrera delineates the "advancements" (to use Brownson's own term) in Brownson's thought about God, man, and the nature of the American Republic, making this volume a unique primer on the man and his contributions to American life and letters.. "The subjects explored - feminism, race, immigration, church and state, and national unity - remain topical in our own ...
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Overview

Orestes Brownson is a new study of a major nineteenth-century intellectual whose work spanned a critical period of American and European history. R. A. Herrera delineates the "advancements" (to use Brownson's own term) in Brownson's thought about God, man, and the nature of the American Republic, making this volume a unique primer on the man and his contributions to American life and letters.. "The subjects explored - feminism, race, immigration, church and state, and national unity - remain topical in our own time. Brownson argued that the American republic's unique charter was to reconcile liberty with law and thus set an example for the world. This volume is made especially timely by the ongoing revival of his thought in American political discourse.
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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement
Brownson had a lot to say about every intellectual fad of the century....His off-the-cuff remarks and sudden shrewd digressions, often crackling with spite, are still fun to read, even when he is quite wrong. R.A. Herrera is an American Catholic dismayed at the current direction of his country and his Church....He ends this short and lively introduction to Brownson's neglected wisdom by making large claims for its continuing relevance.
Weekly Standard
Orestes Brownson was perhaps the most significant Catholic apologist in American history, an opponent of the secularized socialist culture he felt had been building throughout modern times, and a genuine American original.... One strength of...Orestes Brownson: Sign of Contradiction, is its concise overview of Brownson's literary career.
Arthur Schlesinger
R. A. Herrera's Orestes Brownson is an admirably incisive and dispassionate portrait of one of America's most interesting and eccentric thinkers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781882926336
  • Publisher: ISI Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/1999
  • Pages: 253
  • Product dimensions: 5.85 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue
I Beginnings 1
II Ego and Utopia 13
III The Saturnalia of Faith 25
IV The Aeolian Harp 35
V Social Radical 47
VI Leroux, Newman, and Catholicity 59
VII Introibo 73
VIII They are Legion 87
IX War and Recollection 101
X The End of an Era 115
XI Nunc Dimittis 127
XII Final Thoughts 139
XIII An Improbable Friendship 153
XIV In Retrospect 167
Epilogue 183
Bibliography 193
Notes 199
Index 227
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Orestes Brownson (1803 - 1876): improbable New England Transcendentalist

    Robert A. Herrera's 1999 ORESTES BROWNSON: SIGN OF CONTRADICTION offers something for every reader. Brownson's own life (1803 - 1876) was long and controversial. It was lived mainly in New England and New York, but he died in Detroit. At times he seemed to know and interact with everyone important in English, French and American intellectual and even political life (including as an admired ideologue John C. Calhoun of pre-Civil War South Carolina). In religion he was baptized Presbyterian (1822), ordained Universalist minister (1826), later pastored in Unitarian churches and in 1844 converted with wife and children to Roman Catholicism. *** He wrote prodigiously both books and articles, including those for his own periodicals. Brownson's topics ranged across religion, politics, social reform, immigration, Negro emancipation, feminism, philosophy -- especially ontology, natural religion and rather Augustinian proofs for the existence of God -- the American national character and genius, future of American Catholicism and more. Almost totally unschooled, he taught himself to read European languages and corresponded with leading British and Continental thinkers, including England's John Henry Newman. *** My guess is that most Americans will read ORESTES BROWNSON: SIGN OF CONTRADICTION for his years as a co-founder in 1836 Boston of the seminal, creative Transcendental Club. Its membership hovered around 70 and included, among other famous names "Ralph Waldo Emerson, Amon Bronson Alcott, Theodore Parker, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller (and) William Henry Channing" (Ch. 3). Be it noted that the Brownsons were an old well established New England family. Ancestry was traced to a small number who had fled Scotland for England with Mary Queen of Scots in 1568. In that sense Brownson was a natural candidate for inclusion as a charter member of the Transcendentalists. *** But he was also loud, argumentative, something of a bull in a polished china cabinet and not a product of schools or universities. He was nonetheless admired for being the most philosophical of the Emerson - Thoreau - Channing crowd, for being their deepest thinker and most rigorously logical reasoner. To their German-derived philosophical fuzziness and romanticism Brownson added fresh insights from French thinkers such as Victor Cousin and above all Pierre Leroux. Orestes Brownson learned from these brilliant New England Transcendentalists, wrote reviews of their thoughts, defended them when attacked while at the same time absorbing and transmuting their original ideas into his own syntheses. His mind was ever restless and his positions shifted from radical to conservative in every field into which he wandered. Even today thinkers of opposite philosophical, political, social and religious leanings are happy to quote long passages in which Brownson brilliantly supports their views. *** A tumultuous man who never stopped thinking and reasoning: Orestes Augustus Brownson. He is worth learning more about. His star is rising once again, as biographer R. A. Herrera deftly demonstrates. -OOO-

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