Voices and Visions
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
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Boston: Voices and Visions had its origins in many essays and reviews on Greater Boston writers I have published in various journals, but particularly in an essay I wrote for New England Journal of Public Policy, “Imagining Boston” (Summer/Fall 1986), for which I thank NEJPP editor Padraig O’Malley. I am grateful to Dan Wakefield for encouraging me to expand this essay into a book and for bringing the project to the attention of Beacon Press. ...
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“New England was founded consciously, and in no fit of absence of mind,” observed historian Samuel Eliot Morison of the establishment of the Bay Colony on the exposed, narrow, mountainous Shawmut peninsula of Eastern Massachusetts in 1630. That self-conscious presence of mind has endured for nearly four centuries. Boston has been shaped and sustained by observation, imagination, and interpretation. ...
I. Boston, from Winthrop to Hawthorne
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In “The Minister’s Vigil,” chapter XII of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850), Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale climbs the scaffold at the center of Puritan Boston on a dark May night. There, seven years before, he had stood, a silent witness, while Hester Prynne was punished for adultery, though he had been her lover and was the father of their child, Pearl. ...
II. Boston and the American Renaissance
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James T. Fields traveled to Salem from Boston to visit Nathaniel Hawthorne in late 1848, hoping to draw a manuscript from the secretive author for Ticknor & Fields, then “the publishing centre of Boston,” as Van Wyck Brooks put it in The Flowering of New England.1 Advanced by this publisher, Hawthorne, author of tales and romances on human frailty and sorrow, ...
III. Post-Civil War Boston
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After a decade of contention over slavery and immigration, Boston experienced its finest era during the Civil War, when the community came together with unified purpose to oppose slavery, fight Confederate secession, and preserve the Union. In this trial of national identity and values Bostonians were reunited by recalling the high purpose that John Winthrop ...
IV. "Viewed in Boston light": Turn-of-the-century Boston
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After a decade of contention over slavery and immigration, Boston experienced its finest era during the Civil War, when the community came together with unified purpose to oppose slavery, fight Confederate secession, and preserve the Union. In this trial of national identity and values Bostonians were reunited by recalling the high purpose that John Winthrop had set for the city’s founders ...
V. The "Other" Bostonians: New Voices and Visions
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After the Civil War Boston’s ascendancy class grew anxious that the city upon a hill was under siege, that they were being crowded out, invaded by immigrants. Bromfield Corey, the representative Brahmin in William Dean Howells’s The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), realized while walking toward Beacon Hill across the Common that he felt like an “alien” in his native ...
VI. "There it was": Boston, City of Self and Spirit
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Conscience and self-consciousness, the habits of mind carried across the Atlantic to New England in the early seventeenth century by the Puritan settlers of Boston, dissipated but never entirely disappeared over the next four centuries. “New England was founded consciously, and in no fit of absence of mind,” observed historian Samuel Eliot Morison on the establishment of the Bay Colony in 1630.1 ...
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Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2010