Interesting take on Whitman, Emerson, Melville, etc. From the Boston Globe.

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This kind of academic or "literary" take on novels leaves me shaking my head. Poll the American public -- the Red Badge of Courage is the civil war novel they think of? I doubt it. Gone with the Wind is the American civil war novel, but no literary asshole is going to admit it.
Jack, I think you misunderstood the thesis of the piece - that during the war itself or shortly thereafter there was no truly important or enduring literary work that emerged from the war, but the war affected the writers of the time and changed their work. I disagree - Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" contains many Civil War poems and, most famously, a peon to the assassinated Lincoln. There was a hint in the article that the Realist Movement in literature prevented writing about the war, since the war was regarded with a Realist's eye and no longer romanticized as it may have been had the Romanticist Movement prevailed. But Realism was replacing Romanticism in American literature at the time, exemplified by works such as "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Nice point about Romanticism and Realism, John. And Whitman. You know, I've never actually read Uncle Tom's Cabin. Is it worth it?

No, I understood. The thesis is that the great writers were affected by the war and changed American literature. I say that's bullshit, too. War is war. It's been hell forever and the subject of great stories forever, too. What authors write today is no different because of something that happened 150 years ago.


I commented on a particular statement the writer made. And no offense, John -- I'm smiling now -- but when people start talking about realism and romanticism movements in literature, my eyes start to glaze over in the same way. :-)





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