American Sympathy: Men, Friendship, and Literature in the by Caleb Crain

By Caleb Crain

"A good friend in history," Henry David Thoreau as soon as wrote, "looks like a few untimely soul". And within the heritage of friendship in early the USA, Caleb Crain sees the soul of the nation's literature. In a delicate research that weaves jointly literary feedback and old narrative, Crain describes the robust friendships among males that supported and encouraged a few of America's maximum writing - the Gothic novels of Charles Brockden Brown, the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the novels of Herman Melville. He lines the family tree of those friendships via a chain of news. A dapper English undercover agent evokes a Quaker boy to run clear of domestic. 3 Philadelphia gents behavior a romance via diaries and letters within the 1780s. Flighty youngster Charles Brockden Brown metamorphoses right into a horror novelist by means of treating his neighbors as his literary guinea pigs. Emerson exchanges glances with a Harvard classmate yet sacrifices his overwhelm at the altar of literature - a call Margaret Fuller invitations him to think again 20 years later. all through this attractive booklet, Crain demonstrates the numerous ways that the fight to devote emotions to paper educated the form and texture of yank literature.

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

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But under pressure of satire and bribed by dollars, virtue was gradually yielding to politeness. In Mifflin’s day, the republican patriot seemed quaint, rustic, and out of touch. His deference to superiors and authority over subordinates no longer functioned well in a postrevolutionary society, where even parents could hope only to befriend their children, not command them. In Royall Tyler’s 1787 play The Contrast, the old soldier Colonel Manly holds the moral high ground, although his overcoat is tattered, stinky, and years old.

In colonial America, ‘‘friendship’’ had been a euphemism for patronage and dependence. ’’∞∞ But by codifying and depersonalizing economic relations, commercial culture had paradoxically made a new kind of personal relationship possible. It had cut friendship loose from its financial duties. ∞≤ Walt Whitman’s much later desire to found an ‘‘institution of the dear love of comrades’’ should not be confounded with the eighteenth-century understanding of friendship as unfettered possibility: the new friendships seemed capable of anything because they had at last sprung free of institutions.

The few incidents that might indicate a raised eyebrow turn out, on closer examination, not to amount to much. 34 Romance of Leander, Lorenzo, and Castalio On 19 January 1786, for example, John Rhea Smith recorded how awkward he felt when Mifflin visited Gibson, his roommate, in their quarters at Princeton: ‘‘Read Higginson Abiel & Duff in the Room when Mr Mifflin comes in—I feel a little embarassed & sorry for James’s sake, we soon get settled & into conversation & then I felt very easy—Mifflin conversant & easy .

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