Christopher Pearse Cranch Criticism - Essay

Southern Literary Messenger (review date 1845)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Poems by Christopher Pearse Cranch.” Southern Literary Messenger 11, no. 5 (May 1845): 295-99.

[In the following anonymous review, the critic provides a mixed reading of Cranch's Poems.]

In spite of the matter-of-fact character ascribed to our nation, we have every day instances that the soil of Uncle Sam's great farm is not only fertile in producing merchants, whose possessions are those of princes, statesmen and military heroes, who, by the way, in these peaceful times, earn epaulets and laurels bloodlessly enough; but also numberless writers of greater or less distinction, and in every class of literature.

Among the latter, none...

(The entire section is 3855 words.)

J. C. Levenson (essay date 1950)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Levenson, J. C. “Christopher Pearse Cranch: The Case History of a Minor Artist in America.” American Literature 21, no. 4 (January 1950): 415-26.

[In the following essay, Levenson suggests that Cranch's indolence resigned him to a career of mediocrity as a writer and an artist.]

A great literature is more than the sum of a number of great writers. … The continuity of a literature is essential to its greatness: it is very largely the function of secondary writers to preserve this continuity, and to provide a body of writing which is not necessarily read by posterity, but which plays a great part in forming the link between those writers...

(The entire section is 4473 words.)

F. DeWolfe Miller (essay date 1951)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Miller, F. DeWolfe. “Christopher Pearse Cranch—Poet, Painter, and Humorist.” In Christopher Pearse Cranch and His Caricatures of New England Transcendentalism, pp. 3-28. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951.

[In the following excerpt, Miller assesses Cranch's modest reputation as artist and writer.]

The character of Christopher Pearse Cranch presents no anomalies and no particularly difficult paradoxes. The even moral tenor of his long good life reveals him as a man to whom it was so natural to be good that no especial praise is suggested. Diffidence was his most marked characteristic, and the trait of course found its way into much of his work. We...

(The entire section is 8379 words.)

Joseph M. DeFalco (essay date 1971)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: DeFalco, Joseph M. Introduction to Collected Poems of Christopher Pearse Cranch, pp. vii-xx. Gainesville, Fla.: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1971.

[In the following excerpt, DeFalco discusses Cranch's writing career and the critical response to his work by his contemporaries.]

By any estimate Christopher Pearse Cranch must be ranked as one of the five major American Transcendentalist poets. Although he lacked the profundity and originality of Emerson, and although he never achieved the brilliant insights of Thoreau, at his best he approaches their more significant productions in poetry; in his ordinary efforts he is at least equal to Channing and Very....

(The entire section is 3504 words.)

Elizabeth R. McKinsey (essay date 1973)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: McKinsey, Elizabeth R. “Christopher Pearse Cranch.” In The Western Experiment: New England Transcendentalists in the Ohio Valley, pp. 34-41. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973.

[In the following excerpt, McKinsey provides a brief overview of Cranch's career as a Transcendentalist writer in the West.]

Christopher Pearse Cranch, like Clarke, was twenty-three when he went west in 1836. He shared a sense of dedication to the Unitarian mission, but had no definite role into which to fit himself. He went not to fill a particular pulpit but to visit his cousin, William Eliot, the Unitarian minister in St. Louis, and he stayed in Cincinnati (where his older...

(The entire section is 2194 words.)

David Robinson (essay date 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Robinson, David. “Christopher Pearse Cranch, Robert Browning, and the Problem of ‘Transcendental’ Friendship.” Studies in the American Renaissance (1977): 145-53.

[In the following essay, Robinson examines Cranch's friendship with Robert Browning and its effect on Cranch's poetry.]

The thirty year interval between Christopher Pearse Cranch's first collection of verse, Poems (1844), and the successive publications of Satan (1874) and The Bird and the Bell (1875)1 is marked by many apparent changes in a man characterized as one of the most restless of the Transcendentalists.2 Much of this period was spent...

(The entire section is 3128 words.)

David Robinson (essay date 1978)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Robinson, David. “The Career and Reputation of Christopher Pearse Cranch: An Essay in Biography and Bibliography.” Studies in the American Renaissance (1978): 453-72.

[In the following essay, Robinson surveys critical and biographical literature depicting Cranch as a Transcendentalist, poet, and painter.]

Christopher Pearse Cranch assured himself at least a small place in American literary history through his caricatures of Emerson's Nature, which suggested that the Transcendentalists shared a certain sense of humor about their common enterprise, and even about their leader Emerson. But just as his drawings suggest a different mood from the high...

(The entire section is 7052 words.)

Shelly Armitage (essay date 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Armitage, Shelly. “Christopher Pearse Cranch: The Wit as Poet.” American Transcendental Quarterly n.s. 1, no. 1 (March 1987): 33-47.

[In the following essay, Armitage discusses the role of wit, as defined by Emerson, in Cranch's poetry.]

You were not born to hide such gifts as yours
'Neath dreary law-books, nor amid the dust
And dry routine of desks to sit and rust
Where clerks plod through their tasks on office-floors.
Let duller laborers drudge through daily chores,
And do what fate for them makes fit and just.
You bravely do your work because you must;
And when released, your genius sings and soars.
Such humor your pen hath ever run
In pictures or in...

(The entire section is 6413 words.)

Julie M. Norko (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Norko, Julie M. “Christopher Pearse Cranch's Struggle with the Muses.” Studies in the American Renaissance (1992): 209-27.

[In the following essay, Norko discusses Cranch's personal struggle in choosing between a career in the ministry, which he believed was his duty, and art and literature, which he found more appealing.]

In may 1874, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a letter to Christopher Pearse Cranch containing his assessment of the younger man's talents: “I have always understood that you are the victim of your own various gifts; that all the muses, jealous of each other, haunt your brain, and I well remember your speech to the frogs, which called out all...

(The entire section is 8749 words.)

Greta D. Little and Joel Myerson (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Little, Greta D., and Joel Myerson. Introduction to Three Children's Novels by Christopher Pearse Cranch, pp. ix-xxxvi. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1993.

[In the following essay, Little and Myerson offer an overview of Cranch's literary career, focusing on his stories for children.]

Christopher Pearse Cranch's reputation has not fared well over the years. Henry James, who knew him, called Cranch a “painter, poet, musician, mild and melancholy humourist, [who] produced pictures the American traveller sometimes acquired and left verses that the American compiler sometimes includes.”1 And Perry Miller, in his anthology of The...

(The entire section is 7032 words.)

Nancy Stula (essay date 1999)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Stula, Nancy. “Christopher Pearse Cranch: Painter of Transcendentalism.” In Transient and Permanent: The Transcendentalist Movement and Its Contexts, edited by Charles Capper and Conrad Edick Wright, pp. 548-73. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1999.

[In the following essay, Stula examines Cranch's career as an artist who successfully translated Emersonian philosophy and Transcendentalism into a visual medium.]

In September 1841—just six years after completing his studies at Harvard Divinity School—the young Unitarian minister Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813-1892) confessed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “I become more and more inclined to sink the...

(The entire section is 10663 words.)