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American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever

American Bloomsbury (2006)

by Susan Cheever

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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Very enjoyable read but not the scholarly treatment I was hoping for. It reads more like a series of expanded magazine articles than a full-fledged book. The stories of the lives and interactions of the authors were interesting and certainly knew nothing about either the Hawthorne or Margaret Fuller connections to Concord and the Transcendentalists. However, I ran into a few factual errors that made me doubt other parts of the stories (Plymouth is not on Cape Cod). The author also seems very naive and sheltered, unable to come to grips with modern suburban Concord that isn't the 1850s village. Her glowing praise of Little Women as a book to change American literature also seems odd, esp. as Alcott herself was fairly negative on it. It did make me curious to read Alcott's 'serious' novel, Moods. Hello, Project Gutenberg.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
Well researched book about a group of famous authors who all lived in the small town of Concord, MA in the 1800's. Some did not gain notoriety or recognition til they died. ( )
  bogopea | Feb 13, 2014 |
History that reads (almost) like a novel. What a pleasure.

Petrea Burchard
Camelot & Vine ( )
  PetreaBurchard | Feb 9, 2014 |

Book Description
Release date: September 18, 2007
The 1850s were heady times in Concord, Massachusetts: in a town where a woman's petticoat drying on an outdoor line was enough to elicit scandal, some of the greatest minds of our nation's history were gathering in three of its wooden houses to establish a major American literary movement. The Transcendentalists, as these thinkers came to be called, challenged the norms of American society with essays, novels, and treatises whose beautifully rendered prose and groundbreaking assertions still resonate with readers today. Though noted contemporary author Susan Cheever stands in awe of the monumental achievements of such writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Louisa May Alcott, her personal, evocative narrative removes these figures from their dusty pedestals and provides a lively account of their longings, jealousies, and indiscretions. Thus, Cheever reminds us that the passion of Concord's ambitious and temperamental resident geniuses was by no means confined to the page.... ( )
1 vote | Suzanne_Mitchell | Dec 29, 2013 |
I'm a fan of Thoreau, Hawthorn, and Emerson, and got a lot of exposure to Lousia May Alcott's work as a child, so American Bloomsbury was the sort of book that ties a lot of threads together for me. I'd never really understood just how closely entwined their lives were (or how closely Margaret Fuller's was), or put the timeline of their lives into history properly. I was surprised to discover the way their lives in 1850s Concord connected with the history of my state via John Brown, and by a small story about Mark Twain's visit where he'd meant to honor Emerson, who was by then suffering from Alzheimer's.

Cheever's style is easy to digest. She writes in short chapters that capture a particular moment or factor in the lives of her subjects. It's a book that's both easy to put down and pick back up. There are times -- increasingly frequent as the book progresses -- where Cheever's own impressions of things and places start to dot the territory. I found these jarring on the first read, though less so on later page-throughs.

All in all, a book I'd recommend to anyone interested in how these writers, their lives, and their works intersect. ( )
1 vote dimlightarchive | Apr 8, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743264614, Hardcover)

A brilliant, controversial, and fascinating biography of those who were, in the mid-nineteenth century, the center of American thought and literature.Concord, Massachusetts, 1849. At various times, three houses on the same road were home to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry and John Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and his daughter Louisa May, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller. Among their friends and neighbors: Henry James, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, and others. These men and women are at the heart of American idealism.We may think of them as static daguerreotypes, but in fact, these men and women fell desperately in and out of love with each other, edited each other's work, discussed and debated ideas and theories all night long, and walked arm in arm under Concord's great elms-all of which creates a thrilling story.American Bloomsbury explores how, exactly, Concord developed into the first American community devoted to literature and original ideas-ideas that, to this day, define our beliefs about environmentalism and conservation, and about the glorious importance of the individual self.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:39 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A portrait of five Concord, Massachusetts, writers whose works were at the center of mid-nineteenth-century American thought and literature evaluates their interconnected relationships, influence on each other's works, and complex beliefs.

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