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New Directions Paperbook #53: In the American Grain: Essaysby William Carlos Williams
Synopses & Reviews
Meditations on American history and its myths, including chapters on Cotton Mather, Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, and the conquest of Mexico.
Although admired by D. H. Lawrence, this modern classic went generally unnoticed during the years after its publication in 1925. Yet it is "a fundamental book, essential if one proposes to come to terms with American literature" ().
William Carlos Williams was not a historian, but he was fascinated by the texture of American history. Beginning with Columbus's discovery of the Indies and moving on through Sir Walter Raleigh, Cotton Mather, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Aaron Burr, Edgar Allan Poe, and Abraham Lincoln, Williams found in the fabric of familiar episodes new shades of meaning and configurations of character. He brought a poetic imagination to the task of reconstructing a live tradition for Americans, and what results is one of the finest works of prose to have been penned by any writer of the twentieth century.
About the Author
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) was born in Rutherford, New Jersey. He received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met and befriended Ezra Pound and H.D. (Hilda Doolittle). At the same time as maintaining a popular medical practice, he became a prolific poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. Experimenting with new techniques of meter and lineation, Williams sought to invent an entirely fresh--and singularly American--poetics, whose subject matter was centered on the everyday circumstances of life and the lives of common people. He was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2009.
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