God in the Street: New York Writing from the Penny Press to Melville

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Temple University Press, 1995 - 260 páginas
In the fast changing culture of antebellum New York, writers of every stripe celebrated "the City" as a stage for the daily urban encounter between the familiar and the inexplicable. Probing into these richly varied texts, Hans Bergmann uncovers the innovations in writing that accompanied the new market society— the penny newspapers' grandiose boastings, the poetic catalogues of Walt Whitman, the sentimental realism of charity workers, the sensationalism of slum visitors, and the complex urban encounters of Herman Melville's fiction.
The period in which New York, the city itself, became firmly established as a subject invented a literary form that attempts to capture the variety of the teeming city and theflaneur, the walking observer. But Bergmann does not simply lead a parade of images and themes; he explores the ways in which these observers understood what was happening around them and to them, always attentive to class struggle and race and gender issues.God in the Streetshows how the penny press and Whitman's New York poetry create a new mass culture hero who interprets and dignifies the city's confusions. New York writers, both serious and sensationalist, meditate upon street encounters with tricksters and confidence-men and explore the meanings of encounters. Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrinever" underlines the unrelenting isolation and inability to control the interpreter. Bergmann reinterprets Melville'sThe Confidence Manas an example of how a complex literary form arises directly from its own historical materials and is itself socially symbolic. Bergmann sees Melville as special because he recognizes his inability to make sense of the surface of chaotic images and encounters. In mid-century New York City, Melville believes God is in the street, unavailable and unrecognizable, rather than omnipresent and guiding. Author note:Hans Bergmannis Professor of English and Cultural Studies at George Mason University.
 

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Contenido

PART ONE Panorama
14
Young Greeleys Arrival in New York
34
Guides to New York
41
Souvenir of New York44
44
Over the Roofs of the World
69
Walt Whitman
77
Encounters with Street Children
93
Mary Mullen
105
The Old Brewery at the Five Points NY 117
117
Putnams and New York Stories
137
Bartleby the Scrivener
159
Tales of Exchange
181
The ConfidenceMan
199
NOTES
221
INDEX
253
Derechos de autor

Sketches of Hell
115

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Acerca del autor (1995)

Hans Bergmann is Professor of English and Cultural Studies at George Mason University.

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