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by Joel Porte
In this 1991 book, Joel Porte examines nineteenth-century literature, focusing on the general question of the American Romantic ego and its varying modalities of self-creation, self-display, self-projection, and self-concealment. The book begins by exploring the status of the 'text' in nineteenth-century American writing, the relationship of 'rhetorical' reading to historical context, and the nature of 'Romanticism' in an American setting. Porte then concentrates on the great authors of the period through a series of thematically linked but critically discrete essays on Brown, Irving, Parkman, Cooper, Poe, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Melville, Douglass, Stowe, Whitman, and Dickinson. Throughout his important new study, Porte offers provocative reassessments of familiar texts while at the same time casting an illuminating critical eye on less well-known territory. Readers of this book will come away with increased respect for the achievement of American Romantic writers.