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The Fictional Republic : Horatio Alger and American Political Discourse - Carol Nackenoff

The Fictional Republic

Horatio Alger and American Political Discourse

Hardcover Published: 11th April 1994
ISBN: 9780195079234
Number Of Pages: 384

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Investigating the persistence and place of the formulas of Horatio Alger in American politics, The Fictional Republic reassesses the Alger story in its Gilded Age context. Carol Nackenoff argues that Alger was a keen observer of the dislocations and economic pitfalls of the rapidly industrializing nation, and devised a set of symbols that addressed anxieties about power and identity. As classes were increasingly divided by wealth, life chances, residence space, and culture, Alger maintained that Americans could still belong to one estate. The story of the youth who faces threats to his virtue, power, independence, and identity stands as an allegory of the American Republic. Nackenoff examines how the Alger formula continued to shape political discourse in Reagan's America and beyond.

"A wonderful book, written with flair and imagination. The Fictional Republic tells the story of Horatio Alger, the gilded age, and the contest to define America. In explaining why the Horatio Alger myth persists, Carol Nackenoff offers a powerful new reading of American political culture--as it was at the start of the century, as it is today."--James A. Morone, Brown University and author of The Democratic Wish "Firmly grounded on the bedrock of biographical detail, The Fictional Republic perceptively analyzes the politics of Alger's novels. To my great delight, Carol Nackenoff goes far in retrieving a historical Alger whose writings have been appropriated in this century by success cultists and political consultants of every stripe."--Gary Scharnhorst, University of New Mexico "Nackenoff's innovative exploration of the connections between politics and popular literature identifies the many ways in which Horatio Alger reflected and reinforced the political culture of his time."--Paul E. Peterson, Harvard University "This is a splendid book in every way: it is well-conceived, superbly executed, and very well written. Nackenoff tells a marvelously insightful, subtle, and compelling story that is simultaneously an account of Alger and the nineteenth-century religious, philosophic, and political sources and meanings of his writings and an interpretation of the development of American political discourse. Students of popular culture could learn much from The Fictional Republic."--Gordon Schochet, Rutgers University "A valuable contribution to American studies and American literary history. Especially helpful are the chapters on the development of readers and reading in America."--Choice "A wonderful book, written with flair and imagination. The Fictional Republic tells the story of Horatio Alger, the gilded age, and the contest to define America. In explaining why the Horatio Alger myth persists, Carol Nackenoff offers a powerful new reading of American political culture--as it was at the start of the century, as it is today."--James A. Morone, Brown University and author of The Democratic Wish "Firmly grounded on the bedrock of biographical detail, The Fictional Republic perceptively analyzes the politics of Alger's novels. To my great delight, Carol Nackenoff goes far in retrieving a historical Alger whose writings have been appropriated in this century by success cultists and political consultants of every stripe."--Gary Scharnhorst, University of New Mexico "Nackenoff's innovative exploration of the connections between politics and popular literature identifies the many ways in which Horatio Alger reflected and reinforced the political culture of his time."--Paul E. Peterson, Harvard University "This is a splendid book in every way: it is well-conceived, superbly executed, and very well written. Nackenoff tells a marvelously insightful, subtle, and compelling story that is simultaneously an account of Alger and the nineteenth-century religious, philosophic, and political sources and meanings of his writings and an interpretation of the development of American political discourse. Students of popular culture could learn much from The Fictional Republic."--Gordon Schochet, Rutgers University "A valuable contribution to American studies and American literary history. Especially helpful are the chapters on the development of readers and reading in America."--Choice "Her book will engage scholars who are interested in how the nineteenth-century market destabilized value and identity."--The Journal of American History "Nackenoff's The Fictional Republic is another step toward recovering who Alger was and what we as Americans have meant in evoking his name."--American Literature

Prefacep. ix
Allegory of the Republic: On Interpretation and Methodp. 3
A Unitarian Project for Moral Guidancep. 12
Republican Rites of Passage: Character and the Battle for Youthp. 33
Guidebooks for Survival in an Industrializing Economyp. 53
Saved From the Factoryp. 78
Technology, Organizations, Corporations, and Capitalistsp. 93
Natural Aristocracy in a Democracy: Authority, Power, and Politicsp. 110
Money, Price, and Value: Alger's Interventions in the Marketp. 133
Levelling and Its Limitsp. 162
Reading Alger: Searching for Alger's Audience in the Literary Marketplacep. 181
The Mass Fiction Writer As Producer and Consumer: Power, Powerlessness, and Genderp. 206
Culture Warsp. 227
The Fictional Republic: Alger's Appeal to the American Political Imaginationp. 261
Notesp. 272
Referencesp. 336
Name Indexp. 354
Subject Indexp. 357
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195079234
ISBN-10: 019507923X
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 11th April 1994
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.62 x 16.26  x 2.97
Weight (kg): 0.77