Law and Letters in American Culture

Capa
Harvard University Press, 1984 - 417 páginas

The role of religion in early American literature has been endlessly studied; the role of the law has been virtually ignored. Robert A. Ferguson's book seeks to correct this imbalance.

With the Revolution, Ferguson demonstrates, the lawyer replaced the clergyman as the dominant intellectual force in the new nation. Lawyers wrote the first important plays, novels, and poems; as gentlemen of letters they controlled many of the journals and literary societies; and their education in the law led to a controlling aesthetic that shaped both the civic and the imaginative literature of the early republic. An awareness of this aesthetic enables us to see works as diverse as Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia and Irving's burlesque History of New York as unified texts, products of the legal mind of the time.

The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the great political orations were written by lawyers, and so too were the literary works of Trumbull, Tyler, Brackenridge, Charles Brockden Brown, William Cullen Bryant, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., and a dozen other important writers. To recover the original meaning and context of these writings is to gain new understanding of a whole era of American culture.

The nexus of law and letters persisted for more than a half-century. Ferguson explores a range of factors that contributed to its gradual dissolution: the yielding of neoclassicism to romanticism; the changing role of the writer; the shift in the lawyer's stance from generalist to specialist and from ideological spokesman to tactician of compromise; the onslaught of Jacksonian democracy and the problems of a country torn by sectional strife. At the same time, he demonstrates continuities with the American Renaissance. And in Abraham Lincoln he sees a memorable late flowering of the earlier tradition.

 

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Conteúdo

In America the Law Is King
11
Jeffersons Notes on
34
To Form a More Perfect Union
59
Prologue to Part II
87
Trumbull Tyler
96
The Case of Charles Brockden Brown
129
Washington Irving Hunts Down the Nation
150
The Creative Context
173
Prologue to Part III
199
Counsel for the Defense
207
Father and Son
241
I0 End of the Configuration
273
AN EPILOGUE
305
Notes
319
Index
410
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Página 398 - Thus, therefore, the floor of our familiar room has become a neutral territory, somewhere between the real world and fairyland, where the Actual and the Imaginary may meet, and each imbue itself with the nature of the other.

Sobre o autor (1984)

Robert Ferguson is the George Edward Woodberry Professor of Law, Literature, and Criticism at Columbia University. He is the author of "Reading the Early Republic"; "The American Enlightenment, 17501;1820"; and "Law and Letters in American Culture."

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