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The Flowering of New England by Van Wyck…

The Flowering of New England

by Van Wyck Brooks

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269. The Flowering of New England 1815-1865, by Van Wyck Brooks (read 21 July 1946) (Pulitzer History prize in 1937) (National Book Award nonfiction prize for 1936) On July 19, 1946, I said: "Reading 'The Flowering of New England' OL. I hope I'm getting as much out of it as I should." On July 20 said: "Almost done with 'Flowering.'' But nothing as to what I thought of it, but my memory, all these years later, is that it was worth reading. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 9, 2013 |
This is a work of such learning and grace that it transcends the literary history it nominally addresses, and becomes a historical high point in its own right. Only Paul Rosenfeld, Edmund Wilson, Lewis Mumford, and the power-duo of Curti & Parrington even come close to Brooks' accomplishment. As for American culture of the past half-century, perhaps a pathologist is needed more than a historian. ( )
1 vote HarryMacDonald | Feb 20, 2013 |

explaining how New England in the early nineteenth century saw an extraordinary outburst of literary talent, which he attributes in part to the region developing its intellectual resources through Harvard and proximity to Europe, while at the same time it became increasingly politically and economically sidelined as the continent opened up, benefiting New York and points south. (This then of course doesn't explain why the era of literary excellence ended at the time of the Civil War, but perhaps the war itself is explanation enough.) I had not previously appreciated the literary importance of Concord, Massachusetts. As in his other book, which covers largely the same period but in the rest of the US, Brooks has a breezy and entertaining style telling us about all the connections between writers and other artists of the period; I felt also that he gave more attention to women writers (though none at all to non-whites) here. The most striking observation was that most schoolteachers across the entire country in the early nineteenth century came from New England, so it was very much setting the cultural pace for the new nation. (Another striking observation - Uncle Tom's Cabin had been translated into Welsh in three different editions before any of Charles Dickens or Walter Scott had appeared in that language.) Anyway, rounds out my political knowledge of the era nicely. ( )
  nwhyte | Jun 10, 2012 |
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At the time of the Peace of Ghent, which brought to a close the War of 1812, Gilbert Stuart, the portrait painter, was an old inhabitant of Boston.
Boston, of course, was just like other towns, except for its excellent fish-market...

He [Oliver Wendell Holmes] also disliked [his friends] for their dingy linen....
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Recognized as one of the most exciting and notable literary achievements of out time, The Flowering of New England has been awarded every major honor that can be bestowed on a book in the United States, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

The Flowering of New England is the first unified modern appraisal of the giants of our native culture. An inclusive, authoritative, inspiring book, it is at one and the same time a lucid narrative of ideas, a brilliant account of the lives of some fifty authors and painters, a poetic evocation of 19th-century Boston, and an almost reverential tribute to the genius of Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau.
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