In this Book

summary

There are many ways to show our devotion to an author besides reading his or her works. Graves make for popular pilgrimage sites, but far more popular are writers' house museums. What is it we hope to accomplish by trekking to the home of a dead author? We may go in search of the point of inspiration, eager to stand on the very spot where our favorite literary characters first came to life—and find ourselves instead in the house where the author himself was conceived, or where she drew her last breath. Perhaps it is a place through which our writer passed only briefly, or maybe it really was a longtime home—now thoroughly remade as a decorator's show-house.

In A Skeptic's Guide to Writers' Houses Anne Trubek takes a vexed, often funny, and always thoughtful tour of a goodly number of house museums across the nation. In Key West she visits the shamelessly ersatz shrine to a hard-living Ernest Hemingway, while meditating on his lost Cuban farm and the sterile Idaho house in which he committed suicide. In Hannibal, Missouri, she walks the fuzzy line between fact and fiction, as she visits the home of the young Samuel Clemens—and the purported haunts of Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, and Injun' Joe. She hits literary pay-dirt in Concord, Massachusetts, the nineteenth-century mecca that gave home to Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau—and yet could not accommodate a surprisingly complex Louisa May Alcott. She takes us along the trail of residences that Edgar Allan Poe left behind in the wake of his many failures and to the burned-out shell of a California house with which Jack London staked his claim on posterity. In Dayton, Ohio, a charismatic guide brings Paul Laurence Dunbar to compelling life for those few visitors willing to listen; in Cleveland, Trubek finds a moving remembrance of Charles Chesnutt in a house that no longer stands.

Why is it that we visit writers' houses? Although admittedly skeptical about the stories these buildings tell us about their former inhabitants, Anne Trubek carries us along as she falls at least a little bit in love with each stop on her itinerary and finds in each some truth about literature, history, and contemporary America.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Contents
  2. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 1. The Irrational Allure of Writers’ Houses
  2. pp. 1-14
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 2. Trying to Find Whitman in Camden
  2. pp. 15-26
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 3. Never the Twain Shall Meet
  2. pp. 27-42
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 4. The Concord Pilgrimage
  2. pp. 43-66
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 5. Hemingway’s Breadcrumb Trail
  2. pp. 67-88
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 6. Not That Tom Wolfe
  2. pp. 89-102
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 7. Best-Laid Plans at Jack London State Historic Park
  2. pp. 103-112
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 8. The Compensation of Paul Laurence Dunbar
  2. pp. 113-124
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 9. Poe Houses and Arrested Decay
  2. pp. 132-143
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. 10. At Home with Charles Chesnutt and Langston Hughes
  2. pp. 144-155
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. American Writers’ Houses Open to the Public
  2. pp. 149-156
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Notes
  2. pp. 157-166
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. p. 167
  3. free access
    • Download PDF Download
    contents

Additional Information

ISBN
9780812205817
Related ISBN
9780812242928
MARC Record
OCLC
794700572
Pages
176
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.