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After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture Paperback – March 17, 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
These short biographies do complementarily tell this grand story well, but Ellis falls short by not wrapping up the volume with an examination of the common and uncommon characteristics of the four personalities that are detailed. Ellis's superb command of the English language is nearly as present here as it is in his later much lauded works. i did at times feel I was missing important information from the life stories that shaped the ideas of the four studied individuals but this is a reflection of the structure that Ellis chose. It is impossible to get too into the details of any one individual's life in a volume that is using these individuals as supporting evidence for a grander narrative without boring the reader or straying far from the central subject matter.
All in all this is a valuable read - especially for those well acquainted with the triumphs of the founding generation, but not as much its failures and the more minor characters behind the scenes.
Besides the art of the four men focused on in this book, and their dismay and disillusionment at how America was actually developing, the statements of Ralph Waldo Emerson, as Ellis discusses in the Epilogue, are very important because they accurately delineate the mind-set of the true artist. In particular:
- Each individual need to liberate himself from material and monetary enslavement and cultivate ‘private obedience to his mind.’
- Each prospective man of letters in America must become a sovereign, self-reliant individual wholly unconcerned with the opinions of others.
- Serious American artists must abandon all sense of social responsibility and allow themselves to be seized by what he called ‘the highest Instinct.’
- Artists and writers must begin to conceive of themselves as refugees from the American mainstream.
After The Revolution there was little, if any, unique American self-expression, though “The Quartet” were great American poets.
But in the late nineteenth century a great American Aesthetic did evolve. It was in architecture and in Chicago. Maybe influenced by Emerson’s ideas, first Louis Sullivan and then Frank Lloyd Wright created an American Architectural Aesthetic not copied from Europe or anything from the past.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really need to stop trying to read Joseph Ellis books. I just don't care for his writing style. And this book was not what I expected in the culture after the revolution, as I... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Karen Burzdak