Seers and Judges: American Literature as Political Philosophy

Seers and Judges: American Literature as Political Philosophy


Edited by Christine Dunn Henderson, Contributions by Ann Davis, Contributions by Thomas S. Engeman, Contributions by Lilly J. Goren, Contributions by Despina Korovessis, Contributions by Peter A. Lawler, Contributions by Carol McNamara, Contributions by Mary P. Nichols, Contributions by Laura Weiner

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  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Format: Hardback | 184 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 232mm x 20mm | 408g
  • Publication date: 1 February 2002
  • Publication City/Country: Lanham, MD
  • ISBN 10: 0739103199
  • ISBN 13: 9780739103197
  • Illustrations note: bibliography, index

Product description

Alexis de Tocqueville asserted that America had no truly great literature, and that American writers merely mimicked the British and European traditions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This new edited collection masterfully refutes Tocqueville's monocultural myopia and reveals the distinctive role American poetry and prose have played in reflecting and passing judgment upon the core values of American democracy. The essays, profiling the work of Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Updike, Edith Wharton, Walt Whitman, Henry James, Willa Cather, Walker Percy, and Tom Wolfe, reveal how America's greatest writers have acted as society's most ardent cheerleaders and its most penetrating critics. Christine Dunn Henderson's exciting new work offers literature as a portal through which to view the philosophical principles that animate America's political order and the mores which either reinforce or undermine them.

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Author information

Christine Dunn Henderson is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Marshall University and a fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc.

Table of contents

Chapter 1 The "Seer": The Democratic Poet's Recognition and Transcedence Chapter 2 Huckleberry Finn and Twain's Democratic Art of Writing Chapter 3 Tocquevillian Americans: Henry James, Daisy Miller, Pandora Day Chapter 4 The House of Mirth: Edith Wharton's Critique of American Society Chapter 5 Singing an American Song: Tocquellian Reflections on Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark Chapter 6 A Man of Will Chapter 7 Percy and Tocqueville on American Aristocracy and Democracy Chapter 8 Men and Money in Tom Wolfe's America Chapter 9 The Technological Culture of Nihilism: John Updike's Protestant Pilgrimage and Walker Percy's Catholic Naturalism