By Michael T. Gilmore
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This hugely acclaimed examine analyzes many of the traits in English feedback through the first 4 many years of this century.
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Extra info for American Romanticism and the Marketplace
The poet in particular, with his highly developed imagination, has the gift of discerning "this radical correspondence between visible things and human thoughts" (CW I :19). Using nature symbolically for purposes of expression, he "unfixes the land and the sea . . " "The sensual man conforms thoughts to things; the poet conforms things to his thoughts. The one esteems nature as rooted and fast; the other, as fluid, and impresses his being thereon" (CW I : 31). What the poet does figuratively, moreover, all men can do in actuality by grasping "that wonderful congruity which subsists" between them and the cosmos (CW I :40).
And] suddenly began to hook up the virgin mould itself, with a peculiar jerk, clear down to the sand, or rather the water, . . all the terrafirma there was, and haul it away on sleds" (pp. 294- 95). As Thoreau's denunciation of Flint makes clear, his quarrel with the marketplace is in large measure ontological. He sees the exchange process as emptying the world of its concrete reality and not only converting objects into dollars but causing their "it-ness" or being to disappear. A particularly powerful statement of this idea occurs at the beginning of "The Ponds," in the passage (cited in Chapter I ) where Thoreau assails the marketing of huckleberries.
Though Thoreau begins with the conviction that literature can change the world, the aesthetic strategies he adopts to accomplish political objectives involve him in a series of withdrawals from history; in each case the ahistorical maneuver disables the political and is compromised by the very historical moment it seeks to repudiate. This is not to deny Walden's greatness, but rather to emphasize the cost of Thoreau's achievement and to begin to specify its limits. No reader of the book can fail to notice the exultant tone of the "Conclusion"; the impression it leaves is of an author who has made good on his promise not to write "an ode to dejection" (p.