The Cambridge History of American Literature: Volume 1, 1590-1820

The Cambridge History of American Literature: Volume 1, 1590-1820

Sacvan Bercovitch

Language: English

Pages: 845

ISBN: 052130105X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Cambridge History of American Literature addresses the spectrum of new and established directions in American writing. An interdisciplinary distillation of American literary history, it weds the voice of traditional criticism with the diversity of interests that characterize contemporary literary studies. Volume 1 covers the colonial and early national periods, discussing authors ranging from Renaissance explorers to the poets and novelists of the new republic. It should prove an indispensable guide for scholars and students in the fields of English and American literatures and American history.

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suggestions throughout. John Paul Russo and Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson tested every word more than once. Separate but together, they made as fine a committee of correspondence as one could hope for. I have been helped, as well, by the chance to place some rudimentary thoughts for this project in print, where other scholars have been able to comment and improve upon them. These items, for which I thank the editors and publishers, include: " 'We Hold These Truths': Strategies of Control in the

and Harriot's legend explains that such young women delight "in seeing fish taken." The text observes with ethnographical precision that the way she is holding her arms bent, so that her hands touch her shoulders, a forearm covering one naked breast, is "in token of maidenlike modesty"; the other breast remains exposed to represent the characteristic absence of upper-body clothing. In this gesture as well as in her evident interest in fishing, the woman is specifically Algonkian. But other than

rather than smooth). To produce as profitable a volume as possible, de Bry improves on White by making his illustrations more classically aesthetic and more ethnically sympathetic to a well-educated, enlightened European audience. On the one hand, his assimilation of the Algonkians to a mythical model of universal humanity implies that in their own guise they fall below the human form. On the other hand, it expresses a view that they can be raised up. This view makes sense of White's odd addition

quantity but quality, not only the diffusion of English or European civilization but its re- ~/6 THE LITERATURE OF COLONIZATION creation in a different form: if the men he wants as planters of Jamestown are those he respects at home, in Virginia they will define the social scene as they do not at home. That hoped-for society will be an America that is, first, not the ancient world (not any crumbling Eastern kingdom to be pillaged and abandoned) and, second, not present-day Europe (still

all entreaties to return from their white friends, who had raised a large ransom — which the Indians refused, saying the men were free to go or stay as they wished. Such cases were not infrequent; and others besides Crevecoeur also pondered their significance. Benjamin Franklin concluded predictably that they demonstrated the basic laziness of humanity, which only the strictures of white civilization had successfully overcome. A disillusioned Crevecoeur wonders whether, on the contrary, white men

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