Download American Literary-Political Engagements: From Poe to James by William M. Etter PDF

By William M. Etter

American Literary-Political Engagements: From Poe to James examines how authors within the nineteenth-century usa frequently engaged the politics in their occasions via literature as they conceptualized political matters in literary phrases. matters over Jacksonian democracy, social reform in a swiftly industrializing American economic system, African-American familial cooperation within the post-Civil struggle period, altering conceptions of culpability with appreciate to the legislation, and marginalized contributors' involvement in political agitation close to the shut of the century have been made the significant topics of numerous literary works which, notwithstanding hardly ever characterised as openly political, however made those political matters an issue of, and for, literary artwork. via examinations of Edgar Allan Poe's comedic stories find out how to Write a Blackwood Article and A drawback, Rebecca Harding Davis' novel Margret Howth, Mattie J. Jackson's postbellum slave narrative, William Dean Howells' a latest example, and Henry James' The Princess Casamassima, this ebook considers how those texts enhance our figuring out of nineteenth-century America's conceptions of the chances and obligations of literature and of well known democracy, industrialization, African-American girls, the legislation, political agitation, and incapacity.

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Extra info for American Literary-Political Engagements: From Poe to James

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The creative imagination is, for Poe, certainly a powerful faculty capable of extension beyond physical bounds, but it cannot do so under all bodily conditions. The mind’s potential frailty (derived from its dependence on physical well-being for its proper operations), and thus the perpetual struggle between a mind straining for “cabalistic” metaphysics and yet pinned by physical “machinery,” are the revelations offered by this satire’s jokes. Moreover, as humor is often generated by extremes, Poe extends his comedy into the literary realm and depicts Zenobia not only as capable of reflection while in extreme physical pain but as constructing an orderly narrative of her experiences, writing her own “Blackwood Article” while viciously maimed by the clock’s hands.

It thus becomes difficult to identify a coherent political critique in Davis’ portrait of Lois. suffering, which she represents as historical, political, institutional, and public” (106). Furthermore, as Jeffrey W. embody aesthetic degeneration and decline brought about through industry”; thus, and taking into consideration dominant conceptions of disability at the time, Lois would serve as a powerful indictment of the damage industrialism wrecked on laboring classes (265). However, factors that could be imagined as internalized are frequently interspersed with externalizations of the causes of Lois’ disabilities.

2 At the same time, Lois’ disabilities are also presented as though they have no specific cause but have been almost perpetually in existence for this character, as when she is merely referred to as an “unfinished soul” or as “this creature, that Nature had thrown impatiently aside as a failure, so marred, imperfect” (64). Then, finally, at the end of the novel when the narrator reflects on Lois’ death, all attempt at causal explanation for her disability is basically given up as the narrator states that Lois’ spirit is now free from “whatever weight had been put on it by blood or vice or poverty” (259, emphases added).

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