American Bloomsbury: [Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau : their lives, their loves, their work]

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Even the most devoted readers of nineteenth-century American literature often assume that the men and women behind the masterpieces were as dull and staid as the era's static daguerreotypes. Susan Cheever's latest work, however, brings new life to the well-known literary personages who produced such cherished works as The Scarlet Letter, Moby-Dick, Walden, and Little Women. Rendering in full color the tumultuous, often scandalous lives of these volatile and vulnerable geniuses, Cheever's dynamic narrative reminds us that, while these literary heroes now seem secure of their spots in the canon, they were once considered avant-garde, bohemian types, at odds with the establishment.

These remarkable men and women were so improbably concentrated in placid Concord, Massachusetts, that Henry James referred to the town as the "biggest little place in America." Among the host of luminaries who floated in and out of Concord's "American Bloomsbury" as satellites of the venerable intellect and prodigious fortune of Ralph Waldo Emerson were Henry David Thoreau -- perpetual second to his mentor in both love and career; Louisa May Alcott -- dreamy girl and ambitious spinster; Nathaniel Hawthorne -- dilettante and cad; and Margaret Fuller -- glamorous editor and foreign correspondent.

Perhaps inevitably, given the smallness of the place and the idiosyncrasies of its residents, the members of the prestigious circle became both intellectually and romantically entangled: Thoreau serenaded an infatuated Louisa on his flute. Vying with Hawthorne for Fuller's attention, Emerson wrote the fiery feminist love letters while she resided (yards away from his wife) in his guest room. Herman Melville was, according to some, ultimately driven mad by his consuming and unrequited affection for Hawthorne.

Far from typically Victorian, this group of intellectuals, like their British Bloomsbury counterparts to whom the title refers, not only questioned established literary forms, but also resisted old moral and social strictures. Thoreau, of course, famously retreated to a plot of land on Walden Pond to escape capitalism, pick berries, and ponder nature. More shocking was the group's ambivalence toward the institution of marriage. Inclined to bend the rules of its bonds, many of its members spent time at the notorious commune, Brook Farm, and because liberal theories could not entirely guarantee against jealousy, the tension of real or imagined infidelities was always near the surface. Susan Cheever reacquaints us with the sexy, subversive side of Concord's nineteenth-century intellectuals, restoring in three dimensions the literary personalities whose work is at the heart of our national history and cultural identity.

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9780743264617
9781400123629
078629521
9780786295210
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Grouped Work ID b293e9a4-ea7a-2263-8d2d-96cccce82c1b
full_title american bloomsbury louisa may alcott ralph waldo emerson margaret fuller nathaniel hawthorne and he
author cheever susan
grouping_category book
lastUpdate 2017-10-17 10:12:25AM

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auth_author2 Reading, Kate.
author Susan Cheever
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A brilliant, controversial, and fascinating biography of those who were, in the mid-nineteenth century, the center of American thought and literature.

Concord, Massachusetts, 1849. At various times, three houses on the same road were home to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry and John Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and his daughter Louisa May, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller. Among their friends and neighbors: Henry James, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, and others. These men and women are at the heart of American idealism.

We may think of them as static daguerreotypes, but in fact, these men and women fell desperately in and out of love with each other, edited each other's work, discussed and debated ideas and theories all night long, and walked arm in arm under Concord's great elms - all of which creates a thrilling story.

American Bloomsbury explores how, exactly, Concord developed into the first American community devoted to literature and original ideas - ideas that, to this day, define our beliefs about environmentalism and conservation, and about the glorious importance of the individual self.

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subject_facet American literature -- Massachusetts -- Concord -- History and criticism, Authors, American -- 19th century -- Biography, Authors, American -- Homes and haunts -- Massachusetts -- Concord, Concord (Mass.) -- Biography, Concord (Mass.) -- Intellectual life -- 19th century
title_display American Bloomsbury : Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau : their lives, their loves, their work
title_full American Bloomsbury : Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau : their lives, their loves, their work / Susan Cheever, American Bloomsbury : Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau : their lives, their loves, their work / by Susan Cheever, American Bloomsbury Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work, American Bloomsbury [electronic resource] : [Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau : their lives, their loves, their work] / Susan Cheever
title_short American Bloomsbury :
title_sub [Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau : their lives, their loves, their work]
topic_facet Biography & Autobiography, Nonfiction