Catalogue

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Correspondence and American literature, 1770-1865 [electronic resource] /
by Elizabeth Hewitt.
imprint
Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2004.
description
x, 230 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0521842557
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2004.
isbn
0521842557
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8115453
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 188-225) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2005-07-01:
The title does not accurately convey this book's contents, since Hewitt (Ohio State Univ.) theorizes regarding the political significance of letters as they maneuver within the space between individual freedom and societal solidarity. In addition to actual letters, the author looks at the epistolary novel, letters within novels, and even letter-like passages or mentions of letters in essays, novels, and poetry. Hewitt's discussion of the paradoxical nature of human relationships is intriguing. She contrasts Emerson's desire for distance (and his insistence that strangers are the best friends because one does not know them well enough to assess their foibles) with Margaret Fuller's desire for closeness, noting that Emerson was an avid correspondent whereas Fuller preferred direct conversation. The best chapter is that on Emily Dickinson, in which Hewitt highlights Dickinson's editor's difficulty in distinguishing poetry from prose in the letters. Hewitt's discussions of Franklin, Melville, Jacobs, and Whitman are also solid. The book has faults: pedantry (Hewitt inserts "[sic]" after a generic "his" in quotes from the 19th century); belabored points (Whitman's "letters from God"); misused abstractions ("consequences of the impossibility"). However, Hewitt's voluminous reading and mastery of the literature are evident throughout. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Graduate and research collections. M. S. Stephenson University of Texas at Brownsville
Reviews
Review Quotes
'... absorbing ...'Journal of American Studies
"Hewitt's voluminous reading and mastery of the literature are evident throughout. Highly recommended." CHOICE
Review of the hardback: '... absorbing ...' Journal of American Studies
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, July 2005
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
In a survey of the correspondance of important American literary figures from the 18th & 19th centuries, Elizabeth Hewitt illustrates how epistolary debate with friends & associates helped authors such as Whitman, Dickinson & Melville formulate their ideas.
Description for Bookstore
Elizabeth Hewitt uncovers the centrality of letter-writing to antebellum American literature. She argues that many canonical American authors, including Jefferson, Emerson, Melville, Dickinson and Whitman, turned to the epistolary form as an idealised genre through which to consider the challenges of American democracy before the Civil War. Hewitt argues that although correspondence is generally only conceived as a biographical archive, it must instead be understood as a significant genre through which these early authors made sense of social and political relations in the new nation.
Description for Bookstore
Elizabeth Hewitt uncovers the centrality of letter-writing to antebellum American literature. She argues that many canonical American authors, including Jefferson, Emerson, Melville, Dickinson and Whitman, turned to the epistolary form as an idealised genre with which to consider the challenges of American democracy before the Civil War.
Long Description
Elizabeth Hewitt argues that many canonical American authors, including Jefferson, Emerson, Melville, Dickinson and Whitman, turned to letter-writing as an idealized genre through which to consider the challenges of American democracy before the Civil War. Hewitt maintains that, although correspondence is generally only conceived as a biographical archive, it must instead be understood as a significant genre through which these early authors made sense of social and political relations in the new nation.
Main Description
Elizabeth Hewitt uncovers the centrality of letter-writing to antebellum American literature. She argues that many canonical American authors turned to the epistolary form as an idealised genre through which to consider the challenges of American democracy before the Civil War. The letter was the vital technology of social intercourse in the nineteenth century and was adopted as an exemplary genre in which authors from Crevecoeur and Adams through Jefferson, to Emerson, Melville, Dickinson and Whitman, could theorise the social and political themes that were so crucial to their respective literary projects. They interrogated the political possibilities of social intercourse through the practice and analysis of correspondence. Hewitt argues that although correspondence is generally only conceived as a biographical archive, it must instead be understood as a significant genre through which these early authors made sense of social and political relations in the new nation.
Table of Contents
Preface: Universal letter writers
National letters
Emerson and Fuller's phenomenal letters
Melville's dead letters
Jacobs's letters from nowhere
Dickinson's lyrical letters
Conclusion: Whitman's universal letters
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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