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The American Epic : Transforming a Genre, 1770-1860 - John P. McWilliams, Jr.

The American Epic

Transforming a Genre, 1770-1860

Hardcover Published: 24th November 1989
ISBN: 9780521373227
Number Of Pages: 296

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This is the first thorough account of the many attempts during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to fashion a distinctly American epic literature from a wide range of potentially heroic New World subjects. McWilliams considers the cultural, political, and literary implications of adapting Enlightenment news of republican progress to a genre that had traditionally celebrated the greatness of warriors. He shows how and why the epic in America had to be transformed from imitative narrative poetry into the new genres of prose history (Irving, Prescott, Parkman), fictional romance (Cooper, Melville), and free verse (Whitman).This is the first thorough account of the many attempts during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to fashion a distinctly American epic literature from a wide range of potentially heroic New World subjects. McWilliams considers the cultural, political, and literary implications of adapting Enlightenment news of republican progress to a genre that had traditionally celebrated the greatness of warriors. He shows how and why the epic in America had to be transformed from imitative narrative poetry into the new genres of prose history (Irving, Prescott, Parkman), fictional romance (Cooper, Melville), and free verse (Whitman).

"...an important book that fills a gap in our knowledge and strengthens our understanding of 19th-century literary culture." Choice "McWilliams surveys the work of Barlow, Dwight, and Trumbull with a sharp eye toward the rhetorical work each must perform introducing his epic to the public, revealing the discomforts each feels in suiting vehicle to message." David S. Shields, The Eighteenth Century

Introduction
Imitations: Homer's Tyrannous Eye
Invocations
Freedom's Heroes
Freedom's Fools
A White Achilles for the West?
Transformations: The Epic in new Genres
Red Achilles, Red Satan
The Destroying Angel
Till a Better Epic comes along
'An Epic of Democracy?'
Prospect
Notes
Index.
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521373227
ISBN-10: 0521373220
Series: Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 296
Published: 24th November 1989
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.8 x 15.2  x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.61