American Sympathy: Men, Friendship, and Literature in the New Nation

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9780300083323: American Sympathy: Men, Friendship, and Literature in the New Nation

A friend in history,” Henry David Thoreau once wrote, looks like some premature soul.” And in the history of friendship in early America, Caleb Crain sees the soul of the nation’s literature.

In a sensitive analysis that weaves together literary criticism and historical narrative, Crain describes the strong friendships between men that supported and inspired some of America’s greatest writing--the Gothic novels of Charles Brockden Brown, the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the novels of Herman Melville. He traces the genealogy of these friendships through a series of stories. A dapper English spy inspires a Quaker boy to run away from home. Three Philadelphia gentlemen conduct a romance through diaries and letters in the 1780s. Flighty teenager Charles Brockden Brown metamorphoses into a horror novelist by treating his friends as his literary guinea pigs. Emerson exchanges glances with a Harvard classmate but sacrifices his crush on the altar of literature--a decision Margaret Fuller invites him to reconsider two decades later. Throughout this engaging book, Crain demonstrates the many ways in which the struggle to commit feelings to paper informed the shape and texture of American literature.

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About the Author:

Caleb Crain is a contributing editor for Lingua Franca magazine and writes for The New Republic and The New York Times Book Review.

From Library Journal:

Lingua Franca contributing editor Crain examines the tradition of sympathy and friendship between men in early American life and literature. Interpreting Charles Brockden Brown's novels Wieland and Arthur Mervyn, Emerson's essay "Friendship," and Melville's Billy Budd, Crain shows how a tradition of male discourse and ideas presents itself through personal life, friendships, and artistic creations. Using the writings of Plato, Montaigne, Bacon, and Adam Smith and insights gained from letters and diaries of the period, Crain follows a history of the ideas of friendship and compassion as they change and develop. The romantic aspect of the death of the British spy John Andre, early American diarists in Philadelphia, William Godwin's influence on Brown's thinking, the circle of friends around Margaret Fuller, and Melville's great personal hero, Jack Chase, are all carefully detailed. Written from a lesbian and gay studies perspective, the volume discusses overt sexuality and hidden desires. A fascinating study, this should be highly useful for lesbian and gay studies and literature collections. Gene Shaw, NYPL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 2001. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. 242 x 164 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. A friend in history, Henry David Thoreau once wrote, looks like some premature soul. And in the history of friendship in early America, Caleb Crain sees the soul of the nation s literature. In a sensitive analysis that weaves together literary criticism and historical narrative, Crain describes the strong friendships between men that supported and inspired some of America s greatest writing--the Gothic novels of Charles Brockden Brown, the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the novels of Herman Melville. He traces the genealogy of these friendships through a series of stories. A dapper English spy inspires a Quaker boy to run away from home. Three Philadelphia gentlemen conduct a romance through diaries and letters in the 1780s. Flighty teenager Charles Brockden Brown metamorphoses into a horror novelist by treating his friends as his literary guinea pigs. Emerson exchanges glances with a Harvard classmate but sacrifices his crush on the altar of literature--a decision Margaret Fuller invites him to reconsider two decades later.Throughout this engaging book, Crain demonstrates the many ways in which the struggle to commit feelings to paper informed the shape and texture of American literature. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780300083323

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