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116Reviews version was published. Hunt's main effort in his climactic chapter is to demonstrate that this work that was too far in advance of its time is the most important one for which Kerouac developed his mature style of "sketching" and in which the narrator becomes "Kerouac as the product of the unnamed self and the self named by society," so that "the Kerouac of the text transcends that of the Kerouac outside it" and "in a sense, the text becomes the author" (p. 190). (Such a claim can be made, of course, for the much earlier Walt Whitman.) I do not at this point necessarily buy Hunt's argument, which is too complex and subtle to do justice to here. It needs to be considered carefully against the works themselves. But this argument is one that must be considered in any reassessment of Kerouac's position not as cult hero but literary artist. Hunt's book is an enormously stimulating and rewarding study of a writer who may have been too quickly undervalued. In conjunction with this book, it is rewarding to read the few brief excerpts from novelist John Clellon Holmes's journals in Visitor: Jack Kerouac in Old Saybrook, for they present with an immediacy otherwise unavailable an anguished record of a friend's witnessing of Kerouac's deterioration. Holmes makes one wonder if this sad history might have been different had Kerouac found an audience that had some understanding of what he was up to rather than crowds of uncritical enthusiasts and disdainful scoffers. Indiana University at IndianapolisWarren French Andrews, William L., ed. Literary Romanticism in America. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1981. 136 pp. Cloth: $14.95. The premise on which this collection of essays is very loosely based derives from Robert E. Spiller's observation that "the essence of Romanticism is the ability to wonder and to reflect." I am sure that even Arthur Lovejoy (and Rene Wellek a fortiori) would have insisted that finer discriminations are possible. One of Emerson's favorite sentences on the subject of wonder ("alii disputent, ego mirabor") comes from that arch- "romantic," St. Augustine. But the point need not be belabored. There is little unity of theme in this random volume. The first two essays, by Clarence Gohdes and Arlin Turner, on political belief in Emerson and Hawthorne, are pleasantly done but break no new ground; nor is their relationship to "literary Romanticism" clear. The next piece, William L. Andrews' "The 1850's: The First Afro-American Renaissance," is much more firmly grounded in the history of American Romantic writing and taught me a great deal about the evolution of Black autobiography from the traditions of the slave narrative. Louis Rubin's piece on Thomas Wolfe as a Southern neo-romantic also bears a more direct relation to the announced topic of the collection and is well argued. I liked, as well, Panthea Reid Broughton's essay on Walker Percy, in whose work, she argues, the posture of "wonder" and the myth of the "innocent eye" are subject to some cold and clear scrutiny. Finally, John Seelye puts Richard M. Nixon "in perspective" with a display of historical and verbal pyrotechnics that will delight fans of this gifted Americanist. But this fine tour de force, ranging from Mather's life of Sir William Phips to Poor Richard and Richard the Second, can hardly be described as scholarship in Romanticism, though there are some very good pages on Frederick Douglass. I suppose one need not cavil about the title of such a book, but there is really little reason for these essays to be gathered together. Some of them, in fact, have already been Studies in American Fiction117 published elsewhere, and the rest could have been more appropriately placed in suitable journals. The reader who picks up this volume for the overview promised in the title will, I fear, be disappointed. Harvard UniversityJoel Porte Asselineau, Roger. The Transcendentalist Constant in American Literature. New York: New York Univ. Press, 1981. 189 pp. Cloth: $17.50. One approaches this book with high expectations. The subject is of great importance: everybody acknowledges the prominence of Transcendentalism as a motif in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 116-117
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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