“So many Harvard interiors breathed the New England past—so many Harvard generations!” (284). This is what Elisa New, at one time fully an outsider, found upon immersion in the halls, archives, and classrooms—the intellectual relay stations—of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now she and her distinguished emeritus colleague, Lawrence Buell, have written complementary works of literary-historical reclamation in which New England calls to us still: New’s is taut, contemplative, and ravishingly proselytizing; Buell’s broadly synthesizing, thought filled, and judicious. With New England beyond Criticism, New turns us inward to an Emersonian expanse of consciousness commanded by “America’s First Literature,” in which interiority is made possible and individuals brought into congregation by contemplation of the Word alone; in prodigiously amplifying close readings, New puts to rout the high-end profession’s longtime refusal to wax enthusiastic about, confess possession by, and realize instruction from the canon. With...
New England beyond Criticism: In Defense of America’s First Literature
The Dream of the Great American Novel
Tom Ferraro, Frances Hill Fox Professor of English at Duke University and the author of Feeling Italian: The Art of Ethnicity in America (New York Univ. Press, 2005), has been writing, for almost a decade now, what Werner Sollors generously terms “more critical studies in classic American literature.” He was educated, often by Jews, at an Anglican boarding school in New Hampshire, a Congregationalist college in Massachusetts, a Presbyterian university in Connecticut, and at John Calvin’s University of Geneva, all of which he loves still.