By Douglas Anderson
An entire variety of yank writers have all for photos of loved ones, family advantage, and the female or feminized hero. this crucial new publication examines the endurance and adaptability of such subject matters within the paintings of vintage writers from Ann Bradstreet via Jefferson and Franklin to Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Emily Dickinson. with no minimizing the diversities that divide those figures, Anderson indicates the level to which, of their quite a few situations, they have been all devoted to a standard enterprise--a social and cultural reconstruction in accordance with the household values of the correct inner most family.
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Extra info for A House Undivided: Domesticity and Community in American Literature
The communities among which Gulliver lives during his first two voyages are every bit as unstable as Gulliver himself in the moral weight that we are able to attach to them. And forever at the back of the reader's mind is the growing family that Gulliver repeatedly abandons in his thirst for travel and whose loyal affections he finally repudiates in his mad devotion to the Houyhnhnm ideal. Gulliver finally enacts a pattern of parental indifference of which even the repulsive Yahoos cannot be accused and which establishes decisively the complex link between domestic experience and the larger question of the status of human nature that constitutes the meaning and the appeal of Gulliver's Travels.
Taking counsel with the chastened peacock of her "Meditation 5," she appears to have focused her own literary efforts not on the dramatic display of poetical "gay feathers," "THIS GREAT HOUSEHOLD UPON THE EARTH" 23 but rather upon a considered exposure of those embarrassing black feet: "So he that glories in his gifts and adornings should look upon his corruptions, and that will damp his high thoughts" (273). Bradstreet took some care to damp her own. It is equally clear that accompanying this conventional, or corrective, humility of Brads treet's is a genuinely religious sense of un worthiness, expressed most directly in the private verse laments that she left to her children, in which a succession of fainting fits, sicknesses, and periods of bodily weakness all conspire to remind her of her utter dependence upon God: My thankful heart with glorying tongue Shall celebrate Thy name, Who hath restored, redeemed, recured From Sickness, death, and pain.
Nor is it simply politeness that leads Jefferson to couch this contrast in landscapes as a choice confronting the human viewer. One can either remain in the region of "riot and tumult" or one may pass through and "participate" in the peace of the "plain country," a curious phrase that has the effect of turning the geographical term into a kind of pun for American simplicity. Jefferson is not by nature an allegorist or a maker of adroit puns, but he constructs here an unusually telling version of Winthrop's 44 A HOUSE UNDIVIDED Mosaic choice in language that is true to the descriptive purposes of the Notes and at the same time unusually sensitive to the national predicament.
A House Undivided: Domesticity and Community in American Literature by Douglas Anderson