Cultural Secrets as Narrative Form: Storytelling in Nineteenth-century America
Cultural Secrets as Narrative Form: Storytelling in Nineteenth-Century America examines the interplay between the familiar and the forgotten in tales of America's first century as a nation. By studying both the common concerns and the rising tensions between the known and the unknown, the told and the untold, this book offers readers new insight into the making of a nation through stories. Here, identity is built not so much through the winnowing competition of perspectives as through the cumulative layering of stories, derived from sources as diverse as rumors circulating in early patriot newspapers and the highest achievements of aesthetic culture. And yet this is not a source study: the interaction of texts is reciprocal, and the texts studied are not simply complementary but often jarring in their interrelations. The result is a new model of just how some of America's central episodes of self-definition -- the Puritan legacy, the Revolutionary War, and the Western frontier -- have achieved near mythic force in the national imagination. The most powerful myths of national identity, this author argues, are not those that erase historical facts but those able to transform such facts into their own deep resources. Book jacket.
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action ambiguity American Revolution American story argues becomes Billy the Kid British character civil colonial consciousness context Cooper’s Cooper’s Spy cowboy Cromwell Cromwell’s cultural imagination culture’s Custom House dangers death Dimmesdale Dimmesdale’s early embody emergent England experience experiential fact familiar fear fiction figure fragments frame frontier function George Washington Goffe Hans Blumenberg Hawthorne Hawthorne’s hero Hester Prynne historical romance history’s human Ibid identity interpretation James Jane McCrea Jane’s John André judges knowledge land language layer legend literary lived meaning memory mystery myth mythic narrative design narrative silence narrator narrator’s neutral ground nineteenth century novel Oedipa Owen Wister paradoxically patriotic pattern perhaps plot political potential promise Puritan Pynchon’s readers regicides revolutionary rhetoric role ryteller Scarlet Letter scene secrecy secret sense shift social Spy’s storyteller storyteller’s suggests Sutpen’s symbolic tale tion tradition Virginian vision voice Western Whalley Wister writes Wyoming