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 Andre's argues becomes Billy the Kid British character civil colonial consciousness context Cooper's Spy cowboy Cromwell cultural imagination Custom House dangers death Dimmesdale Dimmesdale's early embody emergent England example experience experiential fact familiar fear fiction figure fragments frame frontier function George Washington Goffe Hawthorne Hawthorne's hero Hester Prynne historical fiction historical romance human Ibid identity interpretation James James Fenimore Cooper Jane McCrea Jane's John judges knowledge land language layer legend literary lived meaning memory mystery myth mythic narrative design narrative silence narrator narrator's neutral ground nineteenth century Oedipa Owen Wister paradoxically past Patriot pattern perhaps plot political potential promise Puritan readers regicides revolutionary rhetoric role ryteller Scarlet Letter scene secrecy secret sense shift social Spy's storyteller suggests Sutpen symbolic tale tion tory tradition Virginian vision voice Western Whalley Wister words writes Wyoming