The Regenerate Lyric: Theology and Innovation in American Poetry

Overview

In her book The Regenerate Lyric, Elisa New presents a major revision of the accepted historical account of Emerson as the source of the American poetic tradition. New challenges the majority opinion that Emerson not only overthrew New England religious orthodoxy but founded a poetic tradition that fundamentally renounced that orthodoxy in favor of a secular, Romantic approach. She contends that Emerson's reinvention of the religion as a species of poetry is tested and found wanting by the very poetic innovators ...
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Overview

In her book The Regenerate Lyric, Elisa New presents a major revision of the accepted historical account of Emerson as the source of the American poetic tradition. New challenges the majority opinion that Emerson not only overthrew New England religious orthodoxy but founded a poetic tradition that fundamentally renounced that orthodoxy in favor of a secular, Romantic approach. She contends that Emerson's reinvention of the religion as a species of poetry is tested and found wanting by the very poetic innovators whom Emerson addressed and that a counter-tradition is evident in his major heirs--Whitman, Dickinson, Crane, Stevens, Frost, and Lowell. Indeed, Emerson's own poetry failed in many ways to live up to his views and instead revealed an inherent paradox: that coopting of religion by a poetic theory alienates religion from its life principle--theology--and disables the poem as well.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...[a] superb first book...New's readings are rigorous and rewarding." Lee Oser, The New England Quarterly

"The Regenerate Lyric makes the strongest case for the Puritan view since Pearce." Modern Philology

"The Regenerate Lyric is an exciting debut. Well-read, and closely argued, it will be of interest for poets, critics, theologians, and historians alike." Matthew Cooperman, American Studies International

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Elisa New

Elisa New is professor of English and American literature and language at Harvard University. She is the author of The Line’s Eye and The Regenerate Lyric. She lives with her husband, economist Larry Summers, in Brookline, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C.
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Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I: 1. An original relation: Taylor and Emerson; 2. Poetics and the poem: Emerson; 3. The savage source: Emerson and Stevens; Part II: 4. Crossing Leviticus: Whitman; 5. Beyond circumference: Dickinson; 6. Hand of fire: Crane; Epilogue. The regenerate lyric: Lowell and Frost.
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