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American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Work

by

American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Work Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Cheever doesn't really offer much that's new, but she packages it all so nicely. Rather than revering them as 'static daguerreotypes,' she brings these icons to life as men and women who fell in painful love, lived in crowded quarters, tramped on muddy roads, and 'walked arm in arm under Concord's great elms.' She also does a wonderful job of resurrecting the 19th century itself, and reminding us of how often her subjects were cold, hungry — well, the Alcotts, anyway — uncomfortable, and at the mercy of unenlightened doctors who harmed at least as often as they healed." Marjorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire CSM review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Even the most devoted readers of nineteenth-century American literature often assume that the men and women behind the masterpieces were as dull and staid as the era's static daguerreotypes. Susan Cheever's latest work, however, brings new life to the well-known literary personages who produced such cherished works as The Scarlet Letter, Moby-Dick, Walden, and Little Women. Rendering in full color the tumultuous, often scandalous lives of these volatile and vulnerable geniuses, Cheever's dynamic narrative reminds us that, while these literary heroes now seem secure of their spots in the canon, they were once considered avant-garde, bohemian types, at odds with the establishment.

These remarkable men and women were so improbably concentrated in placid Concord, Massachusetts, that Henry James referred to the town as the biggest little place in America. Among the host of luminaries who floated in and out of Concord's American Bloomsbury as satellites of the venerable intellect and prodigious fortune of Ralph Waldo Emerson were Henry David Thoreau — perpetual second to his mentor in both love and career; Louisa May Alcott — dreamy girl and ambitious spinster; Nathaniel Hawthorne — dilettante and cad; and Margaret Fuller — glamorous editor and foreign correspondent.

Perhaps inevitably, given the smallness of the place and the idiosyncrasies of its residents, the members of the prestigious circle became both intellectually and romantically entangled: Thoreau serenaded an infatuated Louisa on his flute. Vying with Hawthorne for Fuller's attention, Emerson wrote the fiery feminist love letters while she resided (yards away from his wife) in his guest room. Herman Melvillewas, according to some, ultimately driven mad by his consuming and unrequited affection for Hawthorne.

Far from typically Victorian, this group of intellectuals, like their British Bloomsbury counterparts to whom the title refers, not only questioned established literary forms, but also resisted old moral and social strictures. Thoreau, of course, famously retreated to a plot of land on Walden Pond to escape capitalism, pick berries, and ponder nature. More shocking was the group's ambivalence toward the institution of marriage. Inclined to bend the rules of its bonds, many of its members spent time at the notorious commune, Brook Farm, and because liberal theories could not entirely guarantee against jealousy, the tension of real or imagined infidelities was always near the surface.

Susan Cheever reacquaints us with the sexy, subversive side of Concord's nineteenth-century intellectuals, restoring in three dimensions the literary personalities whose work is at the heart of our national history and cultural identity.

Review:

"This beguiling book is Cheever's exploration of the extraordinary cross-fertilization of creativity in Concord, Mass., during the mid-19th century, when Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and the Alcotts lived as neighbors there. If it won't offer much new information for serious students of American literature, it does provide a lively and insightful introduction to the personalities and achievements of the men and women who were seminal figures in America's literary renaissance, and who, Cheever theorizes, influenced the social activism of succeeding generations. In episodic chapters, Cheever describes their entwined relationships. Margaret Fuller was their brilliant, free-spirited muse and a model for Hester Prynne. Louisa May Alcott, was forced to support her family because her feckless father, Bronson, had no intention of doing so. Herman Melville briefly entered the enchanted circle through his friendship with Hawthorne. Cheever touches on their love affairs and intellectual platonic attractions, their high-minded idealism, their personal losses, their intermittent misunderstandings and jealousies, the years of penury suffered by all except Emerson and their full-fledged tragedies -such as Margaret Fuller's drowning. While Cheever sometimes indulges in high-flown speculation about their personal lives, she keenly analyzes the positive and negative ways they influenced one another's ideas and beliefs and the literature that came out of 'this sudden outbreak of genius.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"This beguiling book is Cheever's exploration of the extraordinary cross-fertilization of creativity in Concord, Mass., during the mid-19th century, when Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and the Alcotts lived as neighbors there. If it won't offer much new information for serious students of American literature, it does provide a lively and insightful introduction to the personalities and achievements of the men and women who were seminal figures in America's literary renaissance, and who, Cheever theorizes, influenced the social activism of succeeding generations. In episodic chapters, Cheever describes their entwined relationships. Margaret Fuller was their brilliant, free-spirited muse and a model for Hester Prynne. Louisa May Alcott, was forced to support her family because her feckless father, Bronson, had no intention of doing so. Herman Melville briefly entered the enchanted circle through his friendship with Hawthorne. Cheever touches on their love affairs and intellectual platonic attractions, their high-minded idealism, their personal losses, their intermittent misunderstandings and jealousies, the years of penury suffered by all except Emerson and their full-fledged tragedies — such as Margaret Fuller's drowning. While Cheever sometimes indulges in high-flown speculation about their personal lives, she keenly analyzes the positive and negative ways they influenced one another's ideas and beliefs and the literature that came out of 'this sudden outbreak of genius.' 8 pages of photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Susan Cheever is the latest literary moth to be drawn to the bright flame of mid-19th century Concord, Mass. Her 12th book, 'American Bloomsbury,' invites readers to meander through the lives of five neighbors whom we would do well to remember. Cheever sets her stage early on: 'We may think of them as static daguerreotypes, but in fact these men and women fell desperately in and out of love with each... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Cheever's accomplishment here is in making this fab five come alive for a new generation....American Bloomsbury is a charming book, and a welcome addition to the writings about these incomparable figures of American history." Balitomire Sun

Review:

"[Cheever's] small volume about American Transcendentalists proves so lively and absorbing that it may awaken our desire to read some classics our teachers neglected to bludgeon us with." Hartford Courant

Review:

"Cheever has crafted a stirring book along the apex of love triangles, the edge of jockeying egos and the crest of creative bursts set against the crabbed human condition." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"Essential reading for anyone with an interest in American letters." Library Journal

Review:

"Susan Cheever's American Bloomsbury is a rather odd, and occasionally absorbing." Oregonian

Review:

"[Cheever] does a wonderful job of tracing the constant overlap and interplay of common experience and shared ideas that helped to shape their remarkable output." Christian Science Monitor

Review:

"[Cheever's] inclusion of the neglected Louisa May Alcott in this pantheon of greats is a refreshing gesture." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

Between 1840 and 1868, three houses on the same road in Concord, Massachusetts, were home to such writers as Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. In this brilliant, controversial, and fascinating history, noted author Susan Cheever explores how, exactly, Concord developed into the first American community devoted to idealism. 8 pages of photos.

Synopsis:

A revelatory life of Clover Adams, casting a lens on her iconic marriage to the historian Henry Adams and her fatal embrace of photography in her final months

Clover, an inquisitive, loving, fiercely intelligent Boston Brahmin, married at twenty-eight the older and soon-to- be-eminent Henry Adams. She thrived in her role as an intimate to political insiders in Gilded Age Washington, where she was valued for her wit and taste by such artistic luminaries as Henry James and H. H. Richardson. Clover so clearly possessed, as one friend wrote, andldquo;all she wanted, all this world could give.andrdquo;

And yet at the center of her story is a haunting mystery. Why did Clover, having embarked on an exhilarating self-taught course of photography in the spring of 1883, end her life less than three years later by drinking from a vial of potassium cyanide, a chemical she used in developing her own photographs? The answer is revealed through Natalie Dykstraandrsquo;s original and dramatic discoveries regarding the thirteen-year Adams marriage.

The denouement of Cloverandrsquo;s death is equally compelling. Dykstra illuminates Cloverandrsquo;s enduring stature as a woman betrayed. And, most movingly, she untangles the complex and poignant truth of her shining and impossible marriage.

About the Author

Susan Cheever is the bestselling author of eleven previous books, including five novels and the memoirs Note Found in a Bottle and Home Before Dark. Her work has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Boston Globe Winship Medal. She is a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the Corporation of Yaddo, and a member of the Author's Guild Council. She writes a weekly column for Newsday and teaches in the Bennington College M.F.A. program. She lives in New York City with her family.

Table of Contents

Contents

A Note to the Reader

Preface

Part One

1 Concord, Massachusetts

2 The Alcotts Arrive for the First Time

3 Louisa, Girl Interrupted

4 Louisa in Love...Henry David Thoreau

5 Sic Vita

6 Two Loves

7 Ellen Sewall

8 Money

9 Emerson Pays for Everything

10 Two Deaths

11 The Curse of Salem

12 Hawthorne Emerges

13 The Execution

14 Another Triangle

Part Two

15 Bronson Alcott, Peddler Turned Pedant

16 Fruitlands

17 Sex

18 Thoreau Goes to New York City

19 Wall of Fire

20 Walden Pond

21 Margaret Fuller, the Sexy Muse

22 Rome

23 The Margaret Ghost

24 Hawthorne Leaves Salem Forever

25 Stockbridge

26 Melville

27 The Railroad

28 Community

29 Without Margaret

Part Three

30 Louisa May Alcott Returns

31 Louisa in Boston

32 Concord Again

33 Walden, Walden

34 Thoreau Now

35 Leaving Walden

36 The Birth and Death of Margaret Fuller

37 Shipwreck

38 The Hawthornes' Return to Concord

39 President Frank

40 Bayonets and Bullets

41 Local Martyr

Part Four

42 The Death of Thoreau

43 Louisa in Washington, D.C.

44 Return and Illness

45 Hawthorne Leaves Concord

46 Death

47 Little Women

48 Emerson and the Fire

Concord, Today

Chronology

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780743264617
Subtitle:
A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life
Author:
Cheever, Susan
Author:
Cheever, Susan
Author:
Dykstra, Natalie
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Subject:
General
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
American literature
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
General History
Subject:
Authors, American -- 19th century.
Subject:
Concord (Mass.)
Subject:
United States - 19th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
December 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
25 b/w halftone
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 9.99 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Literary History » United States » 18th and 19th Century
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Work Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9780743264617 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This beguiling book is Cheever's exploration of the extraordinary cross-fertilization of creativity in Concord, Mass., during the mid-19th century, when Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and the Alcotts lived as neighbors there. If it won't offer much new information for serious students of American literature, it does provide a lively and insightful introduction to the personalities and achievements of the men and women who were seminal figures in America's literary renaissance, and who, Cheever theorizes, influenced the social activism of succeeding generations. In episodic chapters, Cheever describes their entwined relationships. Margaret Fuller was their brilliant, free-spirited muse and a model for Hester Prynne. Louisa May Alcott, was forced to support her family because her feckless father, Bronson, had no intention of doing so. Herman Melville briefly entered the enchanted circle through his friendship with Hawthorne. Cheever touches on their love affairs and intellectual platonic attractions, their high-minded idealism, their personal losses, their intermittent misunderstandings and jealousies, the years of penury suffered by all except Emerson and their full-fledged tragedies -such as Margaret Fuller's drowning. While Cheever sometimes indulges in high-flown speculation about their personal lives, she keenly analyzes the positive and negative ways they influenced one another's ideas and beliefs and the literature that came out of 'this sudden outbreak of genius.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This beguiling book is Cheever's exploration of the extraordinary cross-fertilization of creativity in Concord, Mass., during the mid-19th century, when Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and the Alcotts lived as neighbors there. If it won't offer much new information for serious students of American literature, it does provide a lively and insightful introduction to the personalities and achievements of the men and women who were seminal figures in America's literary renaissance, and who, Cheever theorizes, influenced the social activism of succeeding generations. In episodic chapters, Cheever describes their entwined relationships. Margaret Fuller was their brilliant, free-spirited muse and a model for Hester Prynne. Louisa May Alcott, was forced to support her family because her feckless father, Bronson, had no intention of doing so. Herman Melville briefly entered the enchanted circle through his friendship with Hawthorne. Cheever touches on their love affairs and intellectual platonic attractions, their high-minded idealism, their personal losses, their intermittent misunderstandings and jealousies, the years of penury suffered by all except Emerson and their full-fledged tragedies — such as Margaret Fuller's drowning. While Cheever sometimes indulges in high-flown speculation about their personal lives, she keenly analyzes the positive and negative ways they influenced one another's ideas and beliefs and the literature that came out of 'this sudden outbreak of genius.' 8 pages of photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Cheever doesn't really offer much that's new, but she packages it all so nicely. Rather than revering them as 'static daguerreotypes,' she brings these icons to life as men and women who fell in painful love, lived in crowded quarters, tramped on muddy roads, and 'walked arm in arm under Concord's great elms.' She also does a wonderful job of resurrecting the 19th century itself, and reminding us of how often her subjects were cold, hungry — well, the Alcotts, anyway — uncomfortable, and at the mercy of unenlightened doctors who harmed at least as often as they healed." (read the entire CSM review)
"Review" by , "Cheever's accomplishment here is in making this fab five come alive for a new generation....American Bloomsbury is a charming book, and a welcome addition to the writings about these incomparable figures of American history."
"Review" by , "[Cheever's] small volume about American Transcendentalists proves so lively and absorbing that it may awaken our desire to read some classics our teachers neglected to bludgeon us with."
"Review" by , "Cheever has crafted a stirring book along the apex of love triangles, the edge of jockeying egos and the crest of creative bursts set against the crabbed human condition."
"Review" by , "Essential reading for anyone with an interest in American letters."
"Review" by , "Susan Cheever's American Bloomsbury is a rather odd, and occasionally absorbing."
"Review" by , "[Cheever] does a wonderful job of tracing the constant overlap and interplay of common experience and shared ideas that helped to shape their remarkable output."
"Review" by , "[Cheever's] inclusion of the neglected Louisa May Alcott in this pantheon of greats is a refreshing gesture."
"Synopsis" by , Between 1840 and 1868, three houses on the same road in Concord, Massachusetts, were home to such writers as Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. In this brilliant, controversial, and fascinating history, noted author Susan Cheever explores how, exactly, Concord developed into the first American community devoted to idealism. 8 pages of photos.
"Synopsis" by ,

A revelatory life of Clover Adams, casting a lens on her iconic marriage to the historian Henry Adams and her fatal embrace of photography in her final months

Clover, an inquisitive, loving, fiercely intelligent Boston Brahmin, married at twenty-eight the older and soon-to- be-eminent Henry Adams. She thrived in her role as an intimate to political insiders in Gilded Age Washington, where she was valued for her wit and taste by such artistic luminaries as Henry James and H. H. Richardson. Clover so clearly possessed, as one friend wrote, andldquo;all she wanted, all this world could give.andrdquo;

And yet at the center of her story is a haunting mystery. Why did Clover, having embarked on an exhilarating self-taught course of photography in the spring of 1883, end her life less than three years later by drinking from a vial of potassium cyanide, a chemical she used in developing her own photographs? The answer is revealed through Natalie Dykstraandrsquo;s original and dramatic discoveries regarding the thirteen-year Adams marriage.

The denouement of Cloverandrsquo;s death is equally compelling. Dykstra illuminates Cloverandrsquo;s enduring stature as a woman betrayed. And, most movingly, she untangles the complex and poignant truth of her shining and impossible marriage.

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