New PDF release: A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential

By Sean McCann

ISBN-10: 0691136955

ISBN-13: 9780691136950

There isn't any extra strong image in American political lifestyles than the presidency, and similar to presidential energy has had no much less profound an influence on American fiction. A top of Feeling is the 1st booklet to envision twentieth-century literature's deep fascination with the trendy presidency and with the information in regards to the courting among nation strength and democracy that underwrote the increase of presidential authority. Sean McCann demanding situations winning serious interpretations via revelatory new readings of significant writers, together with Richard Wright, Gertrude Stein, Henry Roth, Zora Neale Hurston, Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, Norman Mailer, Don Delillo, and Philip Roth. He argues that those writers not just represented or satirized presidents, yet echoed political thinkers who forged the executive government because the agent of the sovereign will of the yankee humans. They seen the president as preferably a countrywide redeemer, and so they took that excellent as a version and rival for his or her personal paintings. A top of Feeling illuminates the elemental obstacle with democratic sovereignty that informs the main leading edge literary works of the 20th century, and indicates how those works helped redefine and raise the function of government strength in American tradition.

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The first two books of Native Son confront Bigger Thomas with that disenfranchised condition in panoramic detail. Hounded by an oppressive legal system, solicited and abused by a manipulative media, badgered and ignored by a nonresponsive elite, and annoyed by the social customs of a minority culture, Bigger is confronted at every step by the unavoidable evidence of his powerlessness and, by the same token, with the absence of a “culture which could hold and claim his allegiance and faith” INTRODUCTION 26 (HBWB 520).

Whitman INTRODUCTION 21 made the analogy explicit in the years immediately after the Civil War, as he searched for reassurance that the new national compact, sacralized by the sacrifice of soldiers and the death of Lincoln, would last. “To hold men together by paper and seal or by compulsion is no account, / That only holds men together which aggregates all in a living principle . . ”82 Poet and president are analogs and rivals here, as they are complements in Whitman’s paeans to Lincoln, each aspiring to create a national solidarity independent of either legal form or political domination.

62 Objecting to “the theory of checks and balances,” for example, Wilson dismissed the “Whig theory of political dynamics” that he perceived in the framer’s Constitution: “The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing,” and “no living thing can have its organs offset against each other as checks, and live. ”63 Teddy Roosevelt was more direct. ”64 INTRODUCTION 16 Implicit in such remarks, was a deep suspicion of constitutionalism and legalism, viewed by Progressives as effective guardians of reaction.

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A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential Government (20 21) by Sean McCann

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