By Elizabeth Hewitt
Elizabeth Hewitt argues that many canonical American authors, together with Jefferson, Emerson, Melville, Dickinson and Whitman, became to letter-writing as an idealized style by which to contemplate the demanding situations of yankee democracy prior to the Civil battle. Hewitt keeps that, even if correspondence is mostly purely conceived as a biographical archive, it needs to as a substitute be understood as an important style by which those early authors made feel of social and political relatives within the new state.
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Extra resources for Correspondence and american literature
The second half of the book consists of the correspondence between the boarding school girls after their departure from Harmony-Grove. Notably, then, we meet the young women who are students at the boarding school after they have already received their education. In this way, it would seem that we are to read the letters of the second half as illustrations of the kinds of instruction that Mrs. Williams had offered, and corroboration of the success of her teaching methods. That the novel opens with the departure of the girls from school also significantly emphasizes their teacher’s absence, which is likewise insisted on by Mrs.
James writes that before their letter-writing began both men were on equal terms: that the hospitality (the “five weeks’ entertainment”) he offered to Mr. F. B. was “amply repaid” by what James learned from their conversations (39). Yet, James now describes himself as the debtor, needing to write more letters in order to compensate Mr. F. B. ” Thus, he concludes, that having “abundantly profited” from his friend, it “proves the debt of gratitude to be on my side” (39). Letters does not, then, begin with a utopian depiction of rational communication and equal participation, but rather with a description of the National letters 35 numerous ways in which James is unequal to the compact in which his correspondent has enlisted him.
And he repeatedly insisted that his dissemination of the letters was in fact an attempt to repair the rift between Britain and America. Franklin writes, 22 Correspondence and American Literature, 1770–1865 Possibly [the writers] may not like such an Exposal of their Conduct, however tenderly and privately it may be managed. But if they are good Men, and agree that all good Men wish a good Understanding and Harmony to subsist between the Colonies and their Mother Country, they ought the less to regret, that at the small Expence of their Reputation for Sincerity and Publick Spirit among their Compatriots, so desirable an Event may in some degree be forwarded.