9780415968072

Misery's Mathematics: Mourning, Compensation, and Reality in Antebellum American Literature

by ;
  • ISBN13:

    9780415968072

  • ISBN10:

    0415968070

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-01-26
  • Publisher: Routledge
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Summary

Misery's Mathematics reveals the strain of a moment in American cultural history that led several remarkable writers - including Emerson, Warner, Melville and Hawthorn - to render the stark rupture of loss in innovative ways. Pushing Protestant culture's sense of loss into secular terrain, these four key writers rejected Calvinist and sentimental models of bereavement, creating instead the compensations of a mature American literature whose 'originality' stemmed from its capacity to mourn the loss of a common culture and, through such mourning, to assent to new social and cultural realities. Peter Balaam locates this appeal to 'reality' in the analogies antebellum writers drew between their experience of bereavement, and the experiences of uncertainty and disillusionment, that followed the revolutions in science, the winding down of creedal systems and the economic instability typifying the pre-Civil War era.

Table of Contents

List of Figuresp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introduction: "Misery's Mathematics"p. 1
"The Laws of Our Learning": Emerson's Grief and the Geological Principles of Lossp. 17
Playing with Water: Thrill and Theodicy in The Wide, Wide Worldp. 72
Representing Grief, Mourning Representation: Melville's Piazza Talesp. 113
Afterword: Soldering the Abyss: The Possibilities of Compensationp. 149
Notesp. 157
Works Citedp. 173
Indexp. 181
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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