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The discovery of the Rosetta Stone and the subsequent decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics captured the imaginations of nineteenth-century American writers and provided a focal point for their speculations on the relationships between sign, symbol, language, and meaning. Through fresh readings of classic works by Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville, John T. Irwin’s American Hieroglyphics examines the symbolic mode associated with the pictographs.

Irwin demonstrates how American Symbolist literature of the period was motivated by what he calls "hieroglyphic doubling," the use of pictographic expression as a medium of both expression and interpretation. Along the way, he touches upon a wide range of topics that fascinated people of the day, including the journey to the source of the Nile and ideas about the origin of language.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotations
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. Part One: Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman
  2. pp. 1-2
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  1. 1. Champollion and the Historical Background; Emerson's Hieroglyphical Emblems
  2. pp. 3-14
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  1. 2. Thoreau: The Single, Basic Form—Patenting a Leaf
  2. pp. 14-20
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  1. 3. Whitman: Hieroglyphic Bibles and Phallic Songs
  2. pp. 20-40
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  1. Part Two: Poe
  2. pp. 41-42
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  1. 4. The Hieroglyphics and the Quest for Origins: The Myth of Hieroglyphic Doubling
  2. pp. 43-64
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  1. 5. Ends and Origins: The Voyage to the Polar Abyss and the Journey to the Source of the Nile; The Survival of the Manuscript
  2. pp. 64-94
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  1. 6. Certainty and Credibility—Self-Evidence and Self-Reference; Nietzsche and Tragedy—Whitman and Opera; The Open Road
  2. pp. 94-114
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  1. 7. Writing Self / Written Self; The Dark Double; The Overwhelming of the Vessel
  2. pp. 114-129
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  1. 8. Cannibalism and Sacrifice; Metaphors of the Body—Transfiguration, Transubstantiation, Resurrection, and Ascension
  2. pp. 129-148
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  1. 9. Narcissus and the Illusion of Depth
  2. pp. 148-162
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  1. 10. Self-Recognition; Deciphering a Mnemic Inscription; Historical Amnesia and Personal Anamnesis
  2. pp. 163-183
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  1. 11. Repetition; Symbolic Death and Rebirth; The Infinite and the Indefinite; The Mechanism of Foreshadowing
  2. pp. 183-195
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  1. 12. The Unfinished Narrative; The Cavern Inscription on Tsalal; Survival in an Image
  2. pp. 195-205
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  1. 13. The White Shadow; Imaging the Indefinite; Reading the Spirit from the Letter; The Finality of Revenge; The Alogical Status of the Self
  2. pp. 205-223
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  1. 14. The Return to Oneness; Breaking the Crypt; The Limits of Interpretation; The Ultimate Certainty
  2. pp. 223-236
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  1. Part Three: Hawthorne and Melville
  2. pp. 237-238
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  1. Epilogue
  2. pp. 351-354
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 355-362
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 363-371
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Additional Information

ISBN
9781421421162
MARC Record
OCLC
1016581668
Pages
384
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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