American Renaissance Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

Edward J. O'Brien (essay date 1923)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: O'Brien, Edward J. “Hawthorne and Melville” and “Poe.” In The Advance of the American Short Story, pp. 42-87. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company, 1923.

[In the following essay, O'Brien discusses the contributions of Hawthorne, Melville, and Poe to the development of the American short story.]

Few writers whose life was so uneventful as that of Nathaniel Hawthorne have left more biographical materials of their work for the critic. Of the many paradoxes which his life and writings reveal, none is more remarkable than the fact that a man whose shyness held him exceptionally aloof from men should have so frankly set down his dreams and hopes, his...

(The entire section is 9281 words.)

Lawrence Buell (essay date 1986)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Buell, Lawrence. “A Narrative Overview of New England's Literary Development.” In New England Literary Culture: From Revolution through Renaissance, pp. 23-55. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

[In the following excerpt, Buell provides an overview of developments in New England literature between 1815 and 1865.]

Let us start by thinking of New England's literary climate at midcentury as affected most powerfully by a Unitarian-Whig orthodoxy, emanating chiefly from Boston, that was, however, enriched and complicated by a strong dissenting force that had arisen from within it and by considerable literary activity that was on the upswing in...

(The entire section is 7066 words.)

Jeffrey Steele (essay date 1987)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Steele, Jeffrey. “Materializing the Psyche: The Counterexample of Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville.” In The Representation of the Self in the American Renaissance, pp. 134-71. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987.

[In the following essay, Steele argues that the fiction of Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville provide a counterexample to the Transcendentalist writings of Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman.]


It makes a great deal of difference whether or not the self is seen as incarnating transcendent spiritual power. If God—as Emerson believed—is found at the root of the psyche, one's attitude toward...

(The entire section is 17642 words.)

David S. Reynolds (essay date 1997)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Reynolds, David S. “Black Cats and Delirium Tremens: Temperance and the American Renaissance.” In The Serpent in the Cup: Temperance in American Literature, edited by David S. Reynolds and Debra J. Rosenthal, pp. 22-59. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997.

[In the following essay, Reynolds asserts that the writers of American Renaissance literature presented a reconceptualization of the temperance movement in the antebellum era.]

America's literary flowering between 1835 and 1860, commonly known as the American Renaissance, owed much to the temperance movement that burgeoned in several forms during these years. No other single reform had so...

(The entire section is 15455 words.)