Contemporaries were shocked when author Mary Noailles Murfree revealed she was a woman, but modern readers may be more surprised by her cogent discussion of community responses to unwanted development. Effie Waller Smith, an African American woman writing of her love for the Appalachian mountains, wove discussions of women's rights, racial tension, and cultural difference into her Appalachian poetry. Grace MacGowan Cooke participated in avant-garde writers' colonies with the era's literary lights and applied their progressive ideals to her fiction about the Appalachia of her youth. Emma Bell Miles, witness to poverty, industrialization, and violence against women, wrote poignant and insightful critiques of her Appalachian home.
In The Tangled Roots of Feminism, Environmentalism, and Appalachian Literature Elizabeth Engelhardt finds in all four women's writings the origins of what we recognize today as ecological feminism—a wide-reaching philosophy that values the connections between humans and nonhumans and works for social and environmental justice.
People and the land in Appalachia were also the subject of women authors with radically different approaches to mountains and their residents. Authors with progressive ideas about women's rights did not always respect the Appalachian places they were writing about or apply their ideas to all of the women in those places—but they did create hundreds of short stories, novels, letters, diaries, photographs, sketches, and poems about the mountains.
While The Tangled Roots of Feminism, Environmentalism, and Appalachian Literature ascribes much that is noble to the beginnings of the ecological feminism movement as it developed in Appalachia, it is also unyielding in its assessment of the literatures of the voyeur, tourist, and social crusader who supported status quo systems of oppression in Appalachia.
After the second World War, the term “technology” came to signify both the anxieties of possible annihilation in a rapidly changing world and the exhilaration of accelerating cultural change. Technomodern Poetics examines how some of the most well-known writers of the era described the tensions between technical, literary, and media cultures at the dawn of the Digital Age. Poets and writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olson, Jack Kerouac, and Frank O’Hara, among others, anthologized in Donald Allen’s iconic The New American Poetry, 1945–1960, provided a canon of work that has proven increasingly relevant to our technological present. Elaborating on the theories of contemporaneous technologists such as Norbert Wiener, Claude Shannon, J. C. R. Licklider, and a host of noteworthy others, these artists express the anxieties and avant-garde impulses they wrestled with as they came to terms with a complex array of issues raised by the dawning of the nuclear age, computer-based automation, and the expansive reach of electronic media. As author Todd Tietchen reveals, even as these writers were generating novel forms and concerns, they often continued to question whether such technological changes were inherently progressive or destructive.
With an undeniable timeliness, Tietchen’s book is sure to appeal to courses in modern English literature and American studies, as well as among fans of Beat writers and early Cold War culture.
Nearly two million Jewish men, women, and children emigrated from Eastern Europe between 1882 and 1924 and settled in, or passed through, the Lower East Side of New York City. Sanford Sternlicht tells the story of his own childhood in this vibrant neighborhood and puts it within the context of fourteen early twentieth-century East Side writers. Anzia Yezierska, Abraham Cahan, Michael Gold, and Henry Roth, and others defined this new "Jewish homeland" and paved the way for the later great Jewish American novelists.
Sternlicht discusses the role of women, the Yiddish Theater, secular values, the struggle between generations, street crime, politics, labor unions, and the importance of newspapers and periodicals. He documents the decline of Yiddish culture as these immigrants blended into what they called "The Golden Land."
In this autobiographical volume, the remarkable Helen Bevington looks for answers to the question of how to live or, more specifically, how to confront growing older. A familiar face on the literary landscape since the mid-1940s, Bevington contemplates the course of her own life in view of the suicide of her father, the final years her mother spent in unwilling solitude, and the tragic suicide of her son following a crippling automobile accident from which he could never recover. How is one to face the inevitability of death? What is the third alternative? How to persevere in life? The unique Bevington way of autobiography recreates lessons and insights of other lives, historical figures, and compelling incidents, and combines them in a narrative that follows the emotional currents of her life. Evoking a wide range of historical and literary figures, including Chekhov, Marcus Aurelius, Flannery O’Connor, Simone de Beauvoir, Thoreau, Beatrix Potter, Sappho, Yeats, Alexander the Great, Montaigne, Saint Cecilia, Virginia Woolf, Liv Ullmann, and many others, Bevington finds in these lives a path that has guided her search away from solitude. Through her reflections on the ten years that followed her son’s death, we become aware of how far she has traveled, how the search has brightened, how she has eloquently evolved into old age. In the end she is sitting, like the Buddha, under her own fig tree, waiting not for death but for further illumination. An original contemplation of the universal dilemmas and tragedies of existence, The Third and Only Way is at once warm, funny, and inspiring—full of learning and wisdom.
More than any other Transcendentalist of his time, Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) embodied the full complement of the movement’s ideals and vocations: author, advocate for self-reform, stern critic of society, abolitionist, philosopher, and naturalist. The Thoreau of our time—valorized anarchist, founding environmentalist, and fervid advocate of civil disobedience—did not exist in the nineteenth century. In this rich and appealing collection, Sandra Harbert Petrulionis untangles Thoreau’s multiple identities by offering a wide range of nineteenth-century commentary as the opinions of those who knew him evolved over time.
The forty-nine recollections gathered in Thoreau in His Own Time demonstrate that it was those who knew him personally, rather than his contemporary literati, who most prized Thoreau’s message, but even those who disparaged him respected his unabashed example of an unconventional life. Included are comments by Ralph Waldo Emerson—friend, mentor, Walden landlord, and progenitor of the spin on Thoreau’s posthumous reputation; Nathaniel Hawthorne, who could not compliment Thoreau without simultaneously denigrating him; and John Weiss, whose extended commentary on Thoreau’s spirituality reflects unusual tolerance. Selections from the correspondence of Caroline Healey Dall, Maria Thoreau, Sophia Hawthorne, Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley, and Amanda Mather amplify our understanding of the ways in which nineteenth-century women viewed Thoreau. An excerpt by John Burroughs, who alternately honored and condemned Thoreau, asserts his view that Thoreau was ever searching for the unattainable.
The dozens of primary sources in this crisply edited collection illustrate the complexity of Thoreau’s iconoclastic singularity in a way that no one biographer could. Each entry is introduced by a headnote that places the selection in historical and cultural context. Petrulionis’s comprehensive introduction and her detailed chronology of personal and literary events in Thoreau’s life provide a lively and informative gateway to the entries themselves. The collaborative biography that Petrulionis creates in Thoreau in His Own Time contextualizes the strikingly divergent views held by his contemporaries and highlights the reasons behind his profound legacy.
David R. Foster Harvard University Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS3053.F66 1999 | Dewey Decimal 818.309
In 1977 David Foster took to the woods of New England to build a cabin with his own hands. Along with a few tools he brought a copy of the journals of Henry David Thoreau. Foster was struck by how different the forested landscape around him was from the one Thoreau described more than a century earlier. The sights and sounds that Thoreau experienced on his daily walks through nineteenth-century Concord were those of rolling farmland, small woodlands, and farmers endlessly working the land. As Foster explored the New England landscape, he discovered ancient ruins of cellar holes, stone walls, and abandoned cartways--all remnants of this earlier land now largely covered by forest. How had Thoreau's open countryside, shaped by ax and plough, divided by fences and laneways, become a forested landscape?
Part ecological and historical puzzle, this book brings a vanished countryside to life in all its dimensions, human and natural, offering a rich record of human imprint upon the land. Extensive excerpts from the journals show us, through the vividly recorded details of daily life, a Thoreau intimately acquainted with the ways in which he and his neighbors were changing and remaking the New England landscape. Foster adds the perspective of a modern forest ecologist and landscape historian, using the journals to trace themes of historical and social change.
Thoreau's journals evoke not a wilderness retreat but the emotions and natural history that come from an old and humanized landscape. It is with a new understanding of the human role in shaping that landscape, Foster argues, that we can best prepare ourselves to appreciate and conserve it today.
From the journal:
"I have collected and split up now quite a pile of driftwood--rails and riders and stems and stumps of trees--perhaps half or three quarters of a tree...Each stick I deal with has a history, and I read it as I am handling it, and, last of all, I remember my adventures in getting it, while it is burning in the winter evening. That is the most interesting part of its history. It has made part of a fence or a bridge, perchance, or has been rooted out of a clearing and bears the marks of fire on it...Thus one half of the value of my wood is enjoyed before it is housed, and the other half is equal to the whole value of an equal quantity of the wood which I buy."
--October 20, 1855
To Be the Poet
Maxine Hong Kingston Harvard University Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS3561.I52Z48 2002 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
I have almost finished my longbook, Maxine Hong Kingston declares. "Let my life as Poet begin...I won't be a workhorse anymore; I'll be a skylark." To Be the Poet is Kingston's manifesto, the avowal and declaration of a writer who has devoted a good part of her sixty years to writing prose, and who, over the course of this spirited and inspiring book, works out what the rest of her life will be, in poetry.
“Too Good to Be True” is a comprehensive account of Leslie Fiedler’s life and work. Born in 1917, Fiedler has, in a sense, had four overlapping careers. He first came to prominence as one of the premier Jewish intellectuals of the postwar era—writing on literature, culture, and politics in such magazines as Partisan Review and Commentary. Shortly thereafter, he helped lead the attack that myth criticism was mounting on the hegemony of the New Criticism. If he had stopped writing entirely at that point, Fiedler would still be remembered as an important cultural critic of the fifties.
With his brash, groundbreaking magnum opus, Love and Death in the American Novel, Fiedler next established himself as a revolutionary interpreter of our native literary tradition. Subsequent critics of American literature have been compelled to adopt or attack his positions because to ignore them has been impossible.
Finally, Fiedler was one of the first critics to proclaim the death of modernism and to suggest some of the directions that literature might take in its aftermath. The Oxford English Dictionary credits him with being the first individual to apply the term postmodernism to literature. This alone caused much enmity among those who had built their careers on the assumption that modernism would last forever.
To many academics, Fiedler’s lack of solemnity and his wild flights of imagination have made him appear amateurish. How could anyone who enjoys himself that much possibly be taken seriously? One of the favorite critics of young people and non-English majors, Fiedler has seemed to enjoy remaining disreputable—even as some of his once-controversial views have been made a part of standard or traditional scholarship. Like Huck Finn, returned to the raft from the fog, he often seems “too good to be true.”
Mark Royden Winchell has made his subject come alive in a highly intelligent and critical way. A combination of biography, critical analysis, and cultural history, “Too Good to Be True” will be of great interest to scholars and students of American literature, twentieth-century literary criticism, and popular culture.
Broadening our understanding of what constitutes "realism," Nicolas Witschi artfully demonstrates the linkage of American literary realism to the texts, myths, and resources of the American West.
From Gold Rush romances to cowboy Westerns, from hard-boiled detective thrillers to nature writing, the American West has long been known mainly through hackneyed representations in popular genres. But a close look at the literary history of the West reveals a number of writers who claim that their works represent the "real" West. As Nicolas Witschi shows, writers as varied as Bret Harte, John Muir, Frank Norris, Mary Austin, and Raymond Chandler have used claims of textual realism to engage, replicate, or challenge commonly held assumptions about the West, while historically acknowledged realists like William Dean Howells and Mark Twain have often relied on genre-derived impressions about the region.
The familiar association of the West with nature and the "great outdoors" implies that life in the West affords an unambiguous relationship with an unalloyed, non-human, real nature. But through a combination of textual scholarship, genre criticism, and materialist cultural studies, Witschi complicates this notion of wide open spaces and unfettered opportunity. The West has been the primary source of raw materials for American industrial and economic expansion, especially between the California Gold Rush and World War II, and Witschi argues that the writers he examines exist within the intersections of cultural and material modes of production. Realistic depictions of Western nature, he concludes, must rely on the representation of the extraction of material resources like minerals, water, and oil.
With its forays into ecocriticism and cultural studies, Traces of Gold will appeal to students and scholars of American literature, American studies, and western history.
Did the emergence of a free press liberate eighteenth-century American authors? Most critics and historians have assumed so. In a study certain to force a rethinking of early American literary culture, Grantland S. Rice overturns this dominant view. Rice argues that the lapse of Puritan censorship, the consolidation of copyright law, and the explosion of a commercial print culture confronted writers in the new United States with a striking predicament: the depoliticization and commodification of public expression.
Rice shows that the rigorous censorship practiced by Puritan authorities conferred an implicit prestige on texts as civic interventions, helping to foster a vigorous and indigenous tradition of sociopolitical criticism. With special attention to the sudden emergence of the novel in post-revolutionary America, Rice reveals how the emergence of economic liberalism undermined the earlier tradition of political writing by transforming American authorship from an expression of individual civic conscience to a market-oriented profession.
Includes discussions of the writings of Benjamin Franklin, Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecoeur, and Hugh Henry Brackenridge.
Winner of the Western Literature Association’s Thomas J. Lyon Award
Whether as tourist's paradise, countercultural destination, or site of native resistance, the American Southwest has functioned as an Anglo cultural fantasy for more than a century. In Translating Southwestern Landscapes, Audrey Goodman excavates this fantasy to show how the Southwest emerged as a symbolic space from 1880 through the early decades of the twentieth century.
Drawing on sources as diverse as regional magazines and modernist novels, Pueblo portraits and New York exhibits, Goodman has crafted a wide-ranging history that explores the invention, translation, and representation of the Southwest. Its principal players include amateur ethnographer Charles Lummis, who conflated the critical work of cultural translation; pulp novelist Zane Grey, whose bestselling novels defined the social meanings of the modern West; fashionable translator Mary Austin, whose "re-expressions" of Indian song are contrasted with recent examples of ethnopoetics; and modernist author Willa Cather, who demonstrated an immaterial feeling for landscape from the Nebraska Plains to Acoma Pueblo.
Goodman shows how these writers—as well as photographers such as Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, and Alex Harris—exhibit different phases of the struggle between an Anglo calling to document Native and Hispanic difference and America's larger drive toward imperial mastery. In critiquing photographic representations of the Southwest, she argues that commercial interests and eastern prejudices boiled down the experimental images of the late nineteenth century to a few visual myths: the persistence of wilderness, the innocence of early portraiture, and the purity of empty space.
An ambitious synthesis of criticism and anthropology, art history and geopolitical theory, Translating Southwestern Landscapes names the defining contradictions of America's most recently invented cultural space. It shows us that the Southwest of these early visitors is the only Southwest most of us have ever known.
Anaïs Nin made her reputation through publication of her edited diaries and the carefully constructed persona they presented. It was not until decades later, when the diaries were published in their unexpurgated form, that the world began to learn the full details of Nin’s fascinating life and the emotional and literary high-wire acts she committed both in documenting it and in defying the mores of 1950s America. Trapeze begins where the previous volume, Mirages, left off: when Nin met Rupert Pole, the young man who became not only her lover but later her husband in a bigamous marriage.
It marks the start of what Nin came to call her “trapeze life,” swinging between her longtime husband, Hugh Guiler, in New York and her lover, Pole, in California, a perilous lifestyle she continued until her death in 1977. Today what Nin did seems impossible, and what she sought perhaps was impossible: to find harmony and completeness within a split existence. It is a story of daring and genius, love and pain, largely unknown until now.
In this original and intriguing study, Anna Linzie examines three mid-twentieth-century texts never before treated as interrelated in a book-length work of literary criticism: Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933) and Alice B. Toklas's The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book (1954) and What Is Remembered (1963). Taking these three texts as intertexts or as an assemblage of the true story of Alice B. Toklas, Linzie challenges assumptions about primary authorship and singular identity that have continued to limit lesbian and feminist rereadings of autobiography as a genre and of Stein and Toklas as writers and historical figures.The True Story of Alice B. Toklas explores how the concept of autobiography as a primarily referential genre is challenged and transformed in relation to autobiographical texts written about the same person, the same life, but differently, by different writers, at different points in time. The concept of one true story is deconstructed in the process as Linzie modifies Homi K. Bhabha's “almost the same but not quite/not white” for the purposes of this particular study as “almost the same but not quite/not straight.” The investigation moves simultaneously on the planes of textuality and sexuality in order to provisionally articulate a “lesbian autobiographical subject” in Linzie's reading of these three texts.Linzie's study fills a gap in literary criticism where Stein's companion and her work have been more or less neglected, conceptualizing the Stein-Toklas sexual/textual relationship as fundamentally reciprocal. The True Story of Alice B. Toklas provides a new critical perspective on Toklas as indispensable to Stein's literary production, a cultural laborer in her own right, and a writer of her own books. Making a significant contribution to recent lesbian/feminist reconceptualizations of the genre of autobiography, this study will fascinate Stein and Toklas scholars as well as those interested in queer and autobiography studies.
Readers are well acquainted with Truman Capote’s meteoric rise to fame and his metamorphosis from literary enfant terrible to literary genius, celebrity author, and dispenser of venomously comic witticisms. It is also well-known that he spent his formative years in the south Alabama hamlet of Monroeville, and that he was abandoned there by his mother to be cared for and then to care for elderly relatives. Yet details of those years have remained sketchy and vague.
In Monroeville young Capote formed significant bonds and played childhood games with his cousin, Jennings Faulk Carter, and next door neighbor, Nelle Harper Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Go Set a Watchman." Through the tales told by Carter and spun into a fascinating and revealing narrative by Marianne M. Moates readers discover in Truman Capote's Southern Years the lively imagination and the early tragedies of a brilliant child.
A new foreword by Ralph F. Voss underscores the enduring relevance of Truman Capote’s work and the influence his Alabama childhood had on his work.
Samuel Clemens (1835–1910) repeatedly traversed the ocean during his globetrotting life. A keen observer, the man who recast himself as Mark Twain was fascinated by seafaring. This book compiles selections ranging from his first voyage in 1866—San Francisco to Hawaii—to his circumnavigation of the world by steamship 1897. Despite his background as a “brown water” mariner, Twain was out of his element on the ocean. His writings about being at sea (as well as feeling at sea) reflect both a growing familiarity with voyaging and an enduring sense of amazement. Twain’s shipboard observations capture his interest and amusement in the “blue water” mariners he encountered, with their salty subculture and individual quirks. Twain at Sea collects the author’s essays and travelogues on the maritime world in one volume, including excerpts from Roughing It, The Innocents Abroad, A Tramp Abroad, Following the Equator, and other sources.
Never one to suffer fools gladly, especially if they wore crinolines, Mark Twain lost as many friends as he made, and he targeted them all indiscriminately. The first major American writer born west of the Mississippi River, he enjoys a reputation unrivaled in American literary history, and from the beginning of his career he tried to control that reputation by fiercely protecting his public persona. Not a debunking account of Twain’s life but refreshingly immune from his relentless image making, Gary Scharnhorst’s Twain in His Own Time offers an anecdotal version of Twain’s life over which the master spin-doctor had virtually no control.
The ninety-four recollections gathered in Twain in His Own Time form an unsanitized, collaborative biography designed to provide a multitude of perspectives on the iconic author. Opening with an interview with his mother that has never been reprinted, it includes memoirs by his daughters and by men who knew him when he was roughing it in Nevada and California, an interview with the pilot who taught him to navigate the Mississippi River, reminiscences from his illustrators E. M. Kemble and Dan Beard and two of his so-called adolescent angelfish, contributions from politicians and from such literary figures as Dan De Quille and George Bernard Shaw, and one of the most damning assessments of his character—by the author Frank Harris—ever published.
Each entry is introduced by a brief explanation of its historical and cultural context; explanatory notes provide further information about people and places; and Scharnhorst’s introduction and chronology of Twain’s eventful life are comprehensive and detailed. Dozens of lively primary sources published incrementally over more than eighty years, most recorded after his death, illustrate the complexities of this flamboyant, outspoken personality in a way that no single biographer could.