The American Classics: A Personal Essay

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Yale University Press, 01/10/2008 - 304 páginas
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How is a classic book to be defined? How much time must elapse before a work may be judged a “classic”? And among all the works of American literature, which deserve the designation? In this provocative new book Denis Donoghue essays to answer these questions. He presents his own short list of “relative” classics--works whose appeal may not be universal but which nonetheless have occupied an important place in our culture for more than a century. These books have survived the abuses of time—neglect, contempt, indifference, willful readings, excesses of praise, and hyperbole.
Donoghue bestows the term classic on just five American works: Melville’s Moby-Dick, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Thoreau’s Walden, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Examining each in a separate chapter, he discusses how the writings have been received and interpreted, and he offers his own contemporary readings, suggesting, for example, that in the post–9/11 era, Moby-Dick may be rewardingly read as a revenge tragedy. Donoghue extends an irresistible invitation to open the pages of these American classics again, demonstrating with wit and acuity how very much they have to say to us now.

 

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The American classics: a personal essay

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Donoghue (English, NYU; The Practice of Reading ) attempts to define what constitutes a classic by examining five of his own favorite works from the annals of great American literature: Herman ... Ler crítica na íntegra

Índice

After Emerson
1
1 Emerson and The American Scholar
23
2 MobyDick
55
3 The Scarlet Letter
101
4 Walden
137
5 Leaves of Grass
177
6 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
217
Afterword
251
Notes
263
Acknowledgment
281
Index
283
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Acerca do autor (2008)

Denis Donoghue is University Professor and Henry James Professor of English and American Letters at New York University. He is the author of The Practice of Reading and Words Alone: The Poet T. S. Eliot, published by Yale University Press.

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