Based on archival research done at the Library Company of Philadelphia, this essay offers an interpretation of original and popular verses that appear in nineteenth-century friendship albums. It argues that the verses engage a long-standing conversation about the nature of friendship in the Western tradition: where the feeling of friendship comes from, the nature of the feeling itself, and how we ought to practice it. Situating the verses in relation to literary and philosophical writings on friendship including those of Socrates, Michel de Montaigne, Friedrich Nietzsche, Friedrich Hölderlin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Maurice Blanchot, and Simone de Beauvoir achieves two main objectives. First, it aims to give the verses, which have largely been ignored by scholarship, their due as literary texts; and second, reveals that this popular practice, though not itself explicitly philosophical, makes a serious contribution to the Western philosophical tradition's consideration of the concept of friendship.
Laura Zebuhr; The Work of Friendship in Nineteenth-Century American Friendship Album Verses. American Literature 1 September 2015; 87 (3): 433–454. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-3149321
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