A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential - download pdf or read online

By Sean McCann

ISBN-10: 0691136955

ISBN-13: 9780691136950

There is not any extra strong image in American political existence than the presidency, and a dead ringer for presidential energy has had no much less profound an influence on American fiction. A top of Feeling is the 1st publication to envision twentieth-century literature's deep fascination with the fashionable presidency and with the information concerning the dating among kingdom strength and democracy that underwrote the increase of presidential authority. Sean McCann demanding situations triumphing serious 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 forged the executive govt because the agent of the sovereign will of the yankee humans. They seen the president as preferably a countrywide redeemer, they usually took that perfect as a version and rival for his or her personal paintings. A top of Feeling illuminates the basic quandary with democratic sovereignty that informs the main cutting edge literary works of the 20 th century, and indicates how those works helped redefine and increase 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)

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T]o fasten the mind of the reader upon words so firmly that he would forget words and be conscious only of his response” (280). It was fitting that Wright should find an analogue for that project INTRODUCTION 25 in the, albeit falsely, inspiring rhetoric of presidential politicians. For, both in its tone and more seriously in its implicit theory of communication, Wright’s call for imaginative identification resembled the visions of rhetorical leadership shared by the models of executive government prominent at the time.

Controlling others by fear, he is driven by fear himself. Establishing himself as a terrifying image in the collective imagination of white Chicago, he becomes for that very reason, vulnerable to its rage and superstition. The volatile exchangeability of tyrannical power and powerlessness is made especially apparent in the way that Bigger, who “all his life . . had felt” that the newspapers should carry “his story,” discovers that once they do, he beINTRODUCTION 28 comes not the dictator, but the helpless scapegoat of an enraged people (256, emphasis in original).

104 By contrast, it shared a good deal of ground with the idea of presidential government so important to the developing New Deal. ”105 As things stood, Wright later added, “some may escape the general plights and grow up, but it is a matter of luck and I think it should be a matter of plan. ”106 Though he did not specify just what instrumentalities he conceived, in the context of the day’s most heated political battles, it would have been clear that like the proponents of executive reorganization he referred to the development of administrative capacities to be directed by executive power.

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A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential Government (20 21) by Sean McCann


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