By Douglas Anderson
A complete variety of yankee writers have eager about pictures of loved ones, family advantage, and the female or feminized hero. this significant new booklet examines the endurance and suppleness of such issues within the paintings of vintage writers from Ann Bradstreet via Jefferson and Franklin to Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Emily Dickinson. with no minimizing the diversities that divide those figures, Anderson exhibits the level to which, of their numerous situations, they have been all devoted to a standard enterprise--a social and cultural reconstruction in line with the family values of the perfect inner most loved ones.
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Additional resources for A House Undivided: Domesticity and Community in American Literature
Taking counsel with the chastened peacock of her "Meditation 5," she appears to have focused her own literary efforts not on the dramatic display of poetical "gay feathers," "THIS GREAT HOUSEHOLD UPON THE EARTH" 23 but rather upon a considered exposure of those embarrassing black feet: "So he that glories in his gifts and adornings should look upon his corruptions, and that will damp his high thoughts" (273). Bradstreet took some care to damp her own. It is equally clear that accompanying this conventional, or corrective, humility of Brads treet's is a genuinely religious sense of un worthiness, expressed most directly in the private verse laments that she left to her children, in which a succession of fainting fits, sicknesses, and periods of bodily weakness all conspire to remind her of her utter dependence upon God: My thankful heart with glorying tongue Shall celebrate Thy name, Who hath restored, redeemed, recured From Sickness, death, and pain.
This is a posture that is not easy to credit in a human speaker, but neither is it easy to credit the complex posture that Bradstreet adopts in "The Author to Her Book" until one recognizes that Bradstreet is speaking (as a Puritan might put it) "typically" as well as humanly, face to face with God in a relation that Emerson would later recognize and envy as the mark of his Puritan ancestors. "THIS GREAT HOUSEHOLD UPON THE EARTH" 31 In perhaps the finest of her poems envisioning her own death, Bradstreet made it clear just how deeply her imagination responded to the network of associations and images that Winthrop summoned up in his vision of Eve as the redemptive model for life in Massachusetts Bay.
How crowded would Christ's courtroom be and how might the verdicts go in proportion of saved to lost souls? 35 These are, by strict Calvinist standards, rather good odds. More importantly, perhaps, they seem consistent with Edward Taylor's own tendency to weight the human predicament in favor of election and then to focus his imagination upon the benevolence of that process of salvation. Taylor's depiction of the anxieties of the insecure human soul is detailed and sincere; he is by no means complacent in his vision of the operations of grace.