A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential - download pdf or read online
By Sean McCann
There's no extra robust image in American political existence than the presidency, and identical to presidential energy has had no much less profound an impression on American fiction. A top of Feeling is the 1st publication to check twentieth-century literature's deep fascination with the trendy presidency and with the tips in regards to the courting among nation strength and democracy that underwrote the increase of presidential authority. Sean McCann demanding situations triumphing severe interpretations via revelatory new readings of significant writers, together with Richard Wright, Gertrude Stein, Henry Roth, Zora Neale Hurston, Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, Norman Mailer, Don Delillo, and Philip Roth. He argues that those writers not just represented or satirized presidents, yet echoed political thinkers who solid the manager govt because the agent of the sovereign will of the yankee humans. They seen the president as preferably a countrywide redeemer, and so they took that excellent as a version and rival for his or her personal paintings. A top of Feeling illuminates the elemental difficulty with democratic sovereignty that informs the main cutting edge literary works of the 20th century, and indicates how those works helped redefine and raise the position of govt strength in American tradition.
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Extra info for A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential Government (20 21)
Wilson and his Progressive contemporaries worried at the absence of popular sovereignty and at the powerlessness of a citizenry manipulated by parties, controlled by bosses, and deceived by a dominant, but dishonest press. Ginsberg ironically mimicked the complaint, envisioning a country of lost and alienated citizens and importuning, “America . . ” Though less directly than in Wilson’s or in Whitman’s case, the suggestion here too was that the United States was a nation that suffered under domination because it lacked genuine sovereignty.
If he rightly interpret the national thought and boldly insist upon it, he is irresistible; and the country never feels the zest of action so much as when its president is of such insight and caliber. 72 Though it would rarely be put in such enthusiastic language again, Wilson’s view of the president as a nonpartisan embodiment of the national will would become the predominant understanding of the presidency for much of the twentieth century, only strengthened as the institutional reforms (including the primary nomination system) advanced by the Progressives to limit the power of parties became part of the ordinary working mechanics of American democracy.
100 Despite his apparent political differences with Lewis and Merriam, Wright placed an analogous contrast between state tyranny and legitimate executive leadership at the core of his own political and aesthetic vision. If Merriam and Lewis each hoped that new administrative powers would enable a strengthened presidency to avoid the ordinary channels of representative government and forge a more democratic society, Wright suggested similarly that the gifted artist’s ability to create sympathetic community—beyond parties, doctrines, and social conventions— might overcome the alienation and powerlessness he thought typical of the modern world.
A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential Government (20 21) by Sean McCann