LITR 4328 American Renaissance
lecture notes

 

 

Realism as period & style

 

 

 

Simplest formula for distinguishing Romanticism & Realism as styles

 

Romanticism as anything but here and now

Realism as here and now

 

How might Stowe's style be both Romantic and Realistic?

Stowe (1811-96) lives and writes into Realistic period, influences Local Color / Regionalism






Romantic

 9.34-5 reason, x-reason (Romanticism)

13.63 dreamed of a beautiful country > 13.64 realistic domestic details

14.18 perfection of childish beauty

marked her out from other children (cf. Wolfe in Life in the Iron Mills)



Realistic

4.3 realistic details

9.121 realistic detail

humor: 7.75-  (Sam & Andy)

 

Alcott

Emphasize mix of Romanticism and Realism

Wit & Humor

Comic Theory

1.13 Here was the will—now for the way. [Romanticism]

1.14 homosocial world of nursing

1.15 pair of friends [humor]

1.20 extended metaphor; cf. Lincoln

1.20 trial or test of romance

1.29 tears of sentiment

1.30 bridal tour: humor as incongruity

1.32 touch (cf. Uncle Tom’s Cabin?)

1.32 realistic details (cf. Lincoln’s House Divided speech)

4.2 motherly affection

4.5 humor as objectification, physicality [reductive, non-heroic analogies]

4.6 another goblin

4.6 humor as food, drink

4.7 snores: humor as physical [x-transcendental]

4.9 correspondence: faces and real souls

4.9 Washington a camp of hospitals

4.9 Romantic landscape

4.10 a New Jersey boy [realism]

4.14-15 dreaming of Kit [Romanticism? > imagination]

4.18 fatherly action

4.22 My Ganymede [playful, incongruity]

4.23 stately-looking man, commanding stature

4.23 no picture of dying statesman or warrior was ever fuller of real dignity than this Virginia blacksmith

4.23 true piety

4.27 women have a way of doing such things comfortably

4.28 The army needed men like John, earnest, brave, and faithful; fighting for liberty and justice with both heart and hand, true soldiers of the Lord. [Romantic?]

4.28 I had forgotten that the strong man might long for the gentle attendance of a woman's hands, the sympathetic magnetism of a woman's presence  [sentimentality]

4.28 as if he had been a little child [sentimentality]

[4.29] Never, on any human countenance, have I seen so swift and beautiful a look of gratitude, surprise and comfort

4.34 I was the poor substitute for mother, wife, or sister  [sentimentality]

4.34 Anything more natural and frank I never saw

4.36 no wife

4.40 I didn't want the glory or the pay; I wanted the right thing done, and people kept saying the men who were in earnest ought to fight.

4.40 not knowing which was my duty [Realism]

4.49 could he have seen the ominous black holes between his shoulders; he never had   [Realism]

4.56 the influence of an upright nature had made itself deeply felt, even in one little week

4.66 dawn in the east

4.67 stately and still as the statue of some young knight asleep upon his tomb

4.67 I kissed this good son for her sake, and laid the letter in his hand  [sentimentality]

 

Life & Times of Frederick Douglass

"Lincoln freed the slaves" but the slaves largely freed themselves by running away, fighting for the Union, and otherwise undermining the South's slavery-dependent economy.

Black Man at the White House [great title]

2a soldiers without the blue uniform, soldiers with a mark upon them to show that they were inferior to other soldiers

 [3] Happily for me, there was no vain pomp and ceremony about him. I was never more quickly or more completely put at ease in the presence of a great man than in that of Abraham Lincoln.

 "I know who you are, Mr. Douglass; Mr. Seward has told me all about you. Sit down. I am glad to see you."

 4 three particulars which I wished to bring to his attention. First, that colored soldiers ought to receive the same wages as those paid to white soldiers. Second, that colored soldiers ought to receive the same protection when taken prisoners

 rewarded by distinction and promotion precisely as white soldiers are rewarded for like services.

5 He, by his silent listening not less than by his earnest reply to my words, impressed me with the solid gravity of his character.

6 the fact that they were not to receive the same pay as white soldiers seemed a necessary concession to smooth the way to their employment at all as soldiers, but that ultimately they would receive the same.

7 Retaliation was a terrible remedy, and one which it was very difficult to apply; that, if once begun, there was no telling where it would end; that if he could get hold of the Confederate soldiers who had been guilty of treating colored soldiers as felons he could easily retaliate, but the thought of hanging men for a crime perpetrated by others was revolting to his feelings.

while I could not agree with him, I could but respect his humane spirit.

8 less difficulty, though he did not absolutely commit himself.

Though I was not entirely satisfied with his views, I was so well satisfied with the man and with the educating tendency of the conflict that I determined to go on with the recruiting.

 

Hope for the Nation

2 [personal + professional] the fact of my having been a slave and gained my freedom and of having picked up some sort of an education, and being in some sense a "self-made man," and having made myself useful as an advocate of the claims of my people, gave me favor in his eyes; yet I am quite sure that the main thing which gave me consideration with him was my well-known relation to the colored people of the Republic, and especially the help which that relation enabled me to give to the work of suppressing the rebellion

 

[Douglass at White House reception following Lincoln's 2nd inauguration, 4 March 1865]

3f I saw you today . . . how did you like it?

no man in the country whose opinion I value more than yours

a sacred effort 

4a the way to break down an unreasonable custom, is to contradict it in practice. [civil disobedience]

conditions of human association are founded upon character rather than color, and character depends upon mind and morals

 

 

Hawthorne on Lincoln

2 miscellaneous collection of people

4 the veritable specimen, physically, of what the world seems determined to regard as our characteristic qualities. It is the strangest and yet the fittest thing

4 tell a story

5 the pattern American

6 village experience, native sense

7 without pretense, natural dignity

9 uncouth dexterity

9 emblem of peace, not punishment

10 integrity + people's intuition

 

 

Emerson on Lincoln

[1]  mysterious hopes and fears which, in the present day, are connected with the name and institutions of America.

3 a man of the people. He was thoroughly American

[4] A plain man of the people, an extraordinary fortune attended him. He offered no shining qualities at the first encounter; he did not offend by superiority. He had a face and manner which disarmed suspicion, which inspired confidence, which confirmed good will. He was a man without vices.

[5] Then, he had a vast good nature, which made him tolerant and accessible to all ; fair-minded, leaning to the claim of the petitioner;

6a His brief speech at Gettysburg will not easily be surpassed

7 This middle-class country had got a middle-class president, at last.

7 It cannot be said there is any exaggeration of his worth. If ever a man was fairly tested, he was. There was no lack of resistance, nor of slander, nor of ridicule.

8 a heroic figure in the center of a heroic epoch. He is the true history of the American people in his time.

9 Far happier this fate than to have lived to be wished away; to have watched the decay of his own faculties

[10] And what if it should turn out, in the unfolding of the web, that he had reached the term; that this heroic deliverer could no longer serve us

Douglass 1876

1 Lincoln was not, in the fullest sense of the word, either our man or our model. In his interests, in his associations, in his habits of thought, and in his prejudices, he was a white man.

[2] He was preeminently the white man’s President, entirely devoted to the welfare of white men. He was ready and willing at any time during the first years of his administration to deny, postpone, and sacrifice the rights of humanity in the colored people to promote the welfare of the white people of this country.

opposition to the extension of slavery. His arguments in furtherance of this policy had their motive and mainspring in his patriotic devotion to the interests of his own race.

[4] my white fellow-citizens, . . . You are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are at best only his step-children; children by adoption, children by forces of circumstances and necessity.

while Abraham Lincoln saved for you a country, he delivered us from a bondage, according to Jefferson, one hour of which was worse than ages of the oppression your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose.

5 when he strangely told us that we were the cause of the war; when he still more strangely told us that we were to leave the land in which we were born; when he refused to employ our arms in defense of the Union; when, after accepting our services as colored soldiers, he refused to retaliate our murder and torture as colored prisoners; when he told us he would save the Union if he could with slavery

6 we were able to take a comprehensive view of Abraham Lincoln, and to make reasonable allowance for the circumstances of his position

conclusion that the hour and the man of our redemption had somehow met in the person of Abraham Lincoln

7 shared the prejudices common to his countrymen towards the colored race.

one element of his wonderful success in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict

[8] Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white fellow-countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery. . . .

10 infinite wisdom has seldom sent any man into the world better fitted for his mission than Abraham Lincoln. His birth, his training, and his natural endowments, both mental and physical, were strongly in his favor. Born and reared among the lowly, a stranger to wealth and luxury, compelled to grapple single-handed with the flintiest hardships of life, from tender youth to sturdy manhood, he grew strong in the manly and heroic qualities demanded by the great mission to which he was called by the votes of his countrymen.

11 the crowning crime of slavery--the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It was a new crime, a pure act of malice. No purpose of the rebellion was to be served by it. It was the simple gratification of a hell-black spirit of revenge. But it has done good after all. It has filled the country with a deeper abhorrence of slavery and a deeper love for the great liberator. . . .

 

 

 

House Divided Speech

1 "A house divided against itself cannot stand." [Matthew 12:25] I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.

3 machinery extended metaphor

9 machinery metaphor

10 10] Firstly, That no negro slave imported as such from Africa, and descendant of such slave, can ever be a citizen of any State, in the sense of that term as used in the Constitution of the United States.

[11] Secondly, That, "subject to the Constitution of the United States," neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature can exclude slavery from any United States Territory. This point is made in order that individual men fill up the Territories with slaves, without danger of losing them as property, and thus to enhance the chances of permanency to the institution through all the future.  [Free Soil party]

15 framed timbers, different portions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and places and by different workmen,—Stephen, Franklin, Roger, and James, for instance,—and when we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly make the frame of a house or a mill [<variations and extensions of house metaphor>], all the tenons and mortises exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the different pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece too many or too few,—not omitting even scaffolding,—or, if a single piece be lacking, we see the place in the frame exactly fitted and prepared yet to bring such piece in,—in such a case, we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first blow was struck . . . .

 

 

Lincoln 2nd inaugural address

anaphora / parallelism; cf. Whitman

make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

3 All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war.

4 Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.

strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces[Genesis 3.19], but let us judge not, that we be not judged [Matthew 7.1].The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.

Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." [Psalm 19.9]

[5] With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right [<anaphora / parallelism>]  as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

 

 

Gettysburg Address

allusion to Declaration

parallelism

 

Battle of Gettysburg 1-3 July 1863

App. 50,000 casualties

8000 killed

3000 horses

 

Emancipation Proclamation 1 January 1863

 

22 Sept. 1862 Preliminary Proclamation (after Battle of Antietam)

 

Thirteenth, Fourteenth & Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution

1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

2 denied to any of the male inhabitants

4: The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

 

15 The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

 

 

Alcott, Hospital Sketches

1.1-10 romance as quest

1.13 Transcendentalism humorized

 

 


Whitman during Civil War

potential significance of Whitman's Civil War experience

Whitman left or published a lot of poems, records, and journals concerning the Civil War as seen by a citizen living in Washington, which was near the center of the war (i. e., just above Virginia, southeast of Pennsylvania--lots of casualties and troops and supplies coming in and out). 

Drum-Taps -- collection of Civil War poems, selections begin on 3008

 

Whitman's work as a practical male nurse may be the most extended and difficult humanitarian service of any great writer in world history.

Served as important permissible outlet for his otherwise risky love for men. Sometimes compared to gay community's unifying around AIDS crisis in 1980s--"gay" as more than hedonism or pleasure seeking.

Exhausted after war, Whitman suffered first of several major strokes in 1873. Continued to work until death in 1892, again showing his courage in the face of his own personal suffering.

 

 

Significance of Civil War

Abolition of slavery

800,000+ casualties in population of 30 million

(compare Vietnam: 55,000 US dead from US popn of 200 million

or

Iraq war: 2400+ dead out of 300+ million)

(World population now: 6.4 billion)

Therefore, in Civil War virtually every American family suffered a loss of a father, brother, son, cousin, uncle

As with AIDS epidemic in Africa, most productive members of society depleted

 

Political / economic / cultural changes

States > Union (i. e., weakening of "states' rights," strengthening of federal government)

regional culture > national culture (augmented by improvements in transportation and communication, e. g. transcontinental railroad and telegraph)

rural, agricultural society > urban, industrial society (modernization under way before but accelerated by Civil War)

informal, "mixed" society > "regimented" society (also modernization)

pre-Civil War: northern & western USA: middle-class society, opportunity for all, "age of the common man" ("people" dictate political process) 

> rich and poor, "Gilded Age," "plutocracy" (robber barons & captains of industry, wealth dictates political process)

overall, shift from "liberal," open society agitating for change to an exhausted society stressed by loss and change

cf. 1960s & 1980s

Long-term effect of Civil War recently being questioned. Did the South win? The South (and increasingly the Southwest) has dominated national politics, especially in the early 20th century and since the 1980s. (Pres. Clinton, VP Gore, Pres. Bush, Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, Bill Frist)
>anti-federal government, states rights making comeback in federal judiciary; less public support for education; society as rich-poor rather than middle class

 

 

American literary periods:

Romanticism (American Renaissance) 1820s-1860s > Realism (includes Naturalism & Regionalism / Local Color) 1870s-1910s

Romanticism (including Transcendentalism)
Cooper, Emerson, Poe, Hawthorne

Realism
Mark Twain, Henry James, Edith Wharton

Naturalism
Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, Jack London

Regionalism / Local Color
Twain, Bret Harte, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin (Stowe as forerunner)

 

Whitman as transitional figure

Romantic tendencies: expansiveness, sense of possibility, eroticism, experimentation in style and subject matter

Realistic tendencies: urban & industrial landscape, attention to detail

 

 

also Lincoln's many letters, esp. to grieving parents during Civil War

 

+ Lincoln continued to live as a literary figure in the flood of writings that immediately began and has never ended

One of his aides, John Hay, interviewed people who knew Lincoln

oral history > written history

Carl Sandburg, American poet (1878-1967)

Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years (1927)

Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1940)

 

What's "Romantic" about Lincoln?

Appeared during "Romantic era" of American literature and culture, the American Renaissance

What else?

 

Instructor's answers:

Lincoln's rustic background, born in log cabin, worked outdoors, close to nature, manly outdoors as well as bookish indoors

Heroic individual--reading Bible and Shakespeare by firelight, writing on a shovel-back

Mother died early, father remarried "Angel Mother"

cf. Whitman's attempt to balance Americans as "equal but individual / unique / special"

Lincoln born of "the people," speaks like the people but elevated, one of us but special

rags to riches . . . literacy, merit, not wealth as key to power

Lincoln dies early--may contribute to Romantic legend--potential rather than actuality--"what might have been" is usually more Romantic than what really turns out--

Plus mythical resonance or coincidence: Lincoln attacked on Good Friday (14 April 1865)

 

 

Texas Declaration of Independence

1 cf Dec

2 every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood

3, 9 dungeon, dungeons [symbol of oppression]

4 Darwinian laws of nature, self-preservation

4 law of nature cf. Dec

5 cf. Dec submitted to an impartial world

6 Anglo-American population of Texas

6 constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America

7 Santa Anna

7 sword and priesthood; metonym; contrast deism of final paragraph

8 our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous [resentful] and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue

10 right of trial by jury

11 public system of education, necessary for self-government

11-12 only implicit in Declaration

16 national religion

17 rightful property of arms, x-tyranny

23 supreme arbiter of destinies of nations