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Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of…

Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War (original 1962; edition 1994)

by Edmund Wilson

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304354,508 (4.13)18
Title:Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War
Authors:Edmund Wilson
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (1994), Paperback, 816 pages
Collections:Your library

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Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War by Edmund Wilson (1962)



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In 1962, when the book was published, one of the greatest literary critics of the era wrote a thick book about Civil War literature that doesn't include a single reference to writing by African American authors. Not only no Solomon Northup, but also no Frederick Douglass...an unthinkable lack of vision about "Civil War literature" that makes this interesting reading on a whole other level.

The first essay is about Harriet Beecher Stowe; I read with interest that Uncle Tom's Cabin was out of print from the late 1880's until the late 1940's.

David Blight wrote an interesting article about this book in Slate, titled "Edmund Wilson's Patriotic Gore is Not Really Much Like Any Other Book By Anyone," link here:

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/history/2012/03/edmund_wilson_s_patriotic_gor..... ( )
  poingu | Jan 31, 2015 |
Relying heavily on primary sources, such as diaries and letters, Wilson presents the Civil War era in a more compelling fashion than many accounts that are more didactic or linked to preconceived themes and premises. His insights into what these sources reveal about the nature of war and how it is viewed in the moment versus revisionist history help to shed more light on how this terrible conflict occurred and how it affected people who lived through it. An excellent book. ( )
  dragon25a | Apr 23, 2012 |
Wilson discusses an obscure subject of an historically turbulent period and not only explains the transformation of American letters but the social and cultural underpinnings that led to the evolution of American literature. If a great book is one that is written well, interesting, and enlightening than this is a great book. ( )
  JBreedlove | Dec 10, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edmund Wilsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Woodward, C. VannForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Let us begin with Uncle Tom's Cabin.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Harriet Beecher Stowe --
Calvin Stowe; Francis Grierson; The battle hymn of the republic; The union as religious mysticism --
Abraham Lincoln --
Northern soldiers: Ulysses S. Grant --
Northern soldiers: William T. Sherman --
Northerners in the South: Frederick L. Olmsted, John T. Trowbridge --
Northerners in the South: Charlotte Forten and Colonel Higginson --
Three Confederate ladies: Kate Stone, Sarah Morgan, Mary Chesnut --
Southern soldiers: Richard Taylor, John S. Mosby, Robert E. Lee --
Diversity of opinion in the South: William J. Grayson, George Fitzhugh, Hilton R. Helper --
Alexander H. Stephens --
The myth of the old South; Sidney Lanier; Poetry of the Civil War; Sut Lovingood --
Novelists of the post-war South: Albion Tourgée, George W. Cable, Kate Chopin, Thomas Nelson --
Ambrose Bierce on the Owl Creek Bridge --
The chastening of American prose style; John W. De Forest --
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393312569, Paperback)

The period of the American Civil War was not one in which belles lettres flourished but it did produce a remarkable literature which mostly consists of speeches and pamphlets, private letters and diaries, personal memoirs and journalistic reports. Has there ever been another historical crisis of the magnitude of 1861-65 in which so many people were so articulate?

When Edmund Wilson wrote those words in the fall of 1961, the literature of the Vietnam War had yet to be written, but his point remains well taken. Patriotic Gore is a remarkable survey of Civil War literature, encompassing generals, society ladies, and novelists alike. The readings of these works are suffused throughout by Wilson's literary attentiveness and--occasionally--flashes of humor. Of Abraham Lincoln, for example, he writes, "There has undoubtedly been written about him more romantic and sentimental rubbish than about any other American figure, with the possible exception of Edgar Allan Poe; and there are moments when one is tempted to feel that the cruelest thing that has happened to Lincoln since he was shot by Booth has been to fall into the hands of Carl Sandburg."

Certainly one finds the books and personages that one would expect to find within these pages--Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Mary Chestnut--but there are plenty of revelations for those who are not already intimately familiar with the period, such as the possible debt the realism of The Red Badge of Courage owes to the novelist John De Forest, or the charming erudition of Confederate general Richard Taylor. The editorial board of the Modern Library determined Patriotic Gore to be one of the 100 best nonfiction works of the 20th century. Whatever one thinks of the list as a whole, nobody who reads this book can begrudge the board that decision. --Ron Hogan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:44 -0400)

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