Read e-book online American Romanticism: Volume 1: From Cooper to Hawthorne PDF

By David Morse

ISBN-10: 1349078956

ISBN-13: 9781349078950

ISBN-10: 1349078972

ISBN-13: 9781349078974

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Extra info for American Romanticism: Volume 1: From Cooper to Hawthorne

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A suitable benchmark for assessing these destabilising tendencies is Lyman Beecher, father of Harriet Beecher Stowe. In the context of the Congregational Church Beecher was a relatively progressive figure in that he was prepared to soften the harshness of its teaching on human depravity and on the restriction of salvation to only a small elect; he was also prepared to adopt the melodramatic, revivalist style of preaching which to many was an anathema. Yet at the same time Beecher was utterly opposed to the more optimistic and humanistic Unitarian faith, which, following its capture of Harvard College in 1805, was becoming increasingly dominant and which he was summoned to the Hanover Street church in Boston to combat.

For, in every church, there is wood, hay and stubble which will be sure to take fire on the wrong side .... New-England and the West shall be burned over ... as in some parts ofNew-England it was done 80 years ago. 47 The struggle for allegiance was fierce. Although Unitarians and Congregationalists saw it primarily as a battle between them, Anne C. Smith's findings suggest that in Boston between 1830 and 1850 the Methodist, Catholic and Episcopalian churches grew more rapidly than either. 48 Moreover, within the Unitarian Church itself was developing the still more radical Transcendentalist tendency, which went beyond a sane and Introduction: America and the Excessive 25 reasonable emphasis on the inherent goodness of man to proclaim the doctrine of'the divine man', an inexhaustible potentiality that lay within the reach of everyone.

Cooper's romantic Byronism reaches a climax with The WaterWitch (1830) with a hero who is described as 'An outcast of society -a man condemned in the opinion of the world- the outlaw- the flagrant wanderer of the ocean- the lawless Skimmer of the Seas' (p. 108). The novel is set in the reign of Queen Anne and piracy appears as a morally justified response to excessive restrictions on trade. ) In The Water-Witch, however, the patriotic theme is overlaid by innumerable mysterious disappearances and escapes, and so thick is the pall of mystery that Cooper casts over the narrative that it belongs more to the supernatural than to the nautical.

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American Romanticism: Volume 1: From Cooper to Hawthorne by David Morse


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