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American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever

American Bloomsbury (2006)

by Susan Cheever

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The time: mid 1800's
The place: Concord, Massachusetts "biggest little place in America," (Henry James)

Susan Cheever explores the intersecting personal lives of a group of friends, who we acknowledge as an extraordinary group of writers.
The "Concord gang" would include literary residents such as Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Henry David Thoreau.

The American Bloomsbury bears little resemblance to their Victorian "British Bloomsbury" counterparts.
You'll find they are avant-garde bohemian types, often at odds with the existing moral and social structures.
In such close proximity, they intertwine intellectually and romantically.

"Ralph Waldo Emerson was the central and most influential figure among the group of radical thinkers and writers of the 1830s-1850s known as the New England Transcendentalists"
His 1836 essay NATURE is usually considered the decisive moment at which transcendentalism became a major cultural movement.

The audio presentation by Kate Reading brought to life the volatilities and passions of this "cluster of geniuses"
If you have read their writings and have an interest in the era, you'll enjoy this read.

(6 audio discs) ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 14, 2015 |
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 |
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The crossroads where the swampy meadows below the Cambridge Turnpike rise steeply to the orchards on the other side of the Lexington Road looks like any New England corner; shaded by maples, it is bordered by lush grass in the summer and piles of plowed snow in the winter.
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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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