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9 - Literary nationalism and US Romantic aesthetics

from II - National developments in literary criticism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2013

M. A. R. Habib
Affiliation:
Rutgers University, New Jersey
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Summary

In New England, literary nationalism grew less out of publishing politics than out of mid-century religious reform. The influence of Irving and Cooper was overshadowed there by that of Bostonian writers Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell and especially William Ellery Channing. Throughout his career, Ralph Waldo Emerson's nationalist statements were accompanied by, and ultimately overshadowed by, a theory of poetic inspiration borrowed from German Idealist philosophy, especially that of Immanuel Kant. Allan Poe's non-fiction aesthetic statements, the first of their kind in US literature, similarly owe less to Romanticism than to the Enlightenment, less to Wordsworth than to Pope. Emersonian aesthetics continued strongly to influence American poets, especially Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, whose work spanned the mid-century and the transition from pre-war Romanticism to turn-of the-century Realism. With industrial growth and technological advances, the nationalism that underwrote Romanticism was redefined, fractured and finally annihilated.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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