A Writer’s America
From the New England of Robert Frost to the California coast of Robinson Jeffers, from Thomas Jefferson’s eighteenth century Virginia to Robert Lowell’s twentieth century Boston, the land has deeply influenced American literature. In a roughly chronological survey, Kazin explores the ways in which the country’s major writers have responded to their surroundings.
He points out that for Jefferson, Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, and their Romantic successors, America was Edenic. When Henry David Thoreau declared that “in wildness is the preservation of the world,” he was expressing a view common to Crevecoeur’s LETTERS FROM AN AMERICAN FARMER as well as THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN. In writing about his native Concord, Thoreau again typifies the American writer as he draws inspiration from what William Faulkner described as “my own little postage stamp of native soil.”
With the closing of the frontier and the coming of the urban revolution, the vision of America as Eden...
(The entire section is 313 words.)