Published in 1999. Shakespeare is ‘the great author of America’ declared James Fenimore Cooper in 1828. The ambiguous resonance of this claim is fully borne out in this collection of writings on Shakespeare by over forty prominent Americans, spanning the period between the War of independence and the outbreak of the First World War. Featured writers include: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman and Mark Twain.
The essays, many of which are reprinted here for the first time, are arranged in chronological order and provide a fascinating conspectus of American attitudes to Shakespeare, from Revolutionary and Transcendentalist approaches through to the influential interventions of professional American critics in the early twentieth century. The extraordinary and bizarre contribution to the Shakespeare debut by Delia Bacon is exemplified by the inclusion of her 1856 article which is reprinted in its entirety.
Americans on Shakespeare charts the emergence of an American literary tradition, and the gradual appropriation of Shakespeare as part of the American search for cultural identity; an identity whose domination is set to continue into the twenty-first century.
1. 1776, The Pausing American Loyalist, Moses Coit Tyler 2. 1820, The Boar’s Head Tavern, East Cheap: A Shakespearean Research, Washington Irving 3. 1820 Stratford-On-Avon, Washington Irving 4. 1828, Notions of the Americans, James Fenimore Cooper 5. 1835, Misconceptions of Shakespeare upon the Stage, John Quincy Adams 6. 1836, Advantages and Disadvantages of Foreign Influence on American Literature, Henry D. Thoreau 7. 1838 On the Progress of Civilization, George Bancroft 8. 1839, Literary Vassals, Orestes A. Brownson 9. 1838, Emerson, Orestes A. Brownson 10. 1839, Shakespeare, Jones Very 11. 1840, The Bermudas: A Shakespearian Research, Washington Irving 12. 1844, Shakespeare; or, The Poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson 13. 1844 Shakespeare and Insanity, A. O. Kellogg 14. 1845, A Review of William Hazlitt’s ‘The Characters of Shakespeare’, Edgar Allan Poe 15. 1848, The Romance of Yachting, Joseph C. Hart 16. 1848, Alleged Immorality, H. N. Hudson 17. 1850, Shakespeare in America, Anonymous 18. 1850, Hawthorne and his Mosses, Herman Melville 19. 1856 William Shakespeare and his Plays, Delia Bacon 20. 1857, Preface to Delia Bacon’s ‘The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded’, Nathaniel Hawthorne 21. 1857, The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded, Delia Bacon 22. 1863, Recollections of a Gifted Woman, Nathaniel Hawthorn 23. 1863, A Letter from President Lincoln to Mr. Hackett: August 17, 1863, Abraham Lincoln 24. 1864, Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson 25. 1864, Shakespeare, Olivia Wendell Holmes 26. 1866, Why we have no Shakespearean Scholars, Anonymous 27. 1866, Philosopher and Poet, Nathanial Holmes 28. 1867, A Thought on Shakespeare, Anna C. Brackett 29. 1868, Shakespeare Once More, James Russell Lowell 30. 1869, Coriolanus, Mary Preston 31. 1870, Two Speeches, William Cullen Bryant 32. 1871, Domestic Vistas, Walt Whitman 33. 1872, On the Unveiling of Shakespeare’s Statue in Central Park, William Cullen Bryant 34. 1874, The Shakespearean-Bacon Controversy, E. O. Vaile 35. 1876 How Shall we Spell Sh-k-sp-r-‘s Name?, J. H. Gilmore 36. 1877, In Warwickshire, Henry James 37. 1881, Poetry To-Day in America-Shakspere-The Future, Walt Whitman 38. 1884, The Anatomizing of William Shakespeare, Richard Grant White 39. 1884, What Lurks Behind Shakspere’s Historical Plays?, Walt Whitman 40. 1886, A Thought on Shakspere, Walt Whitman 41. Introduction to The Taming of the Shrew, William Winter 42. 1887, An Additional Word on Taming of the Shrew, Augustin Daly 43. 1888, A Backward Glance O’er Travel’d Roads, Walt Whitman 44. 1888, George Fox (and Shakspere), Walt Whitman 45. 1890, Walt Whitman’s View of Shakespeare, Johnathan Trumbull 46. 1891, The Whitman-Shakespeare Question, Johnathan Trumbull 47. 1983, Edwin Booth, William Winter 48. 1895, Shakespeare’s Americanisms, Henry Cabot Lodge 49. 1897, Barnum and Shakespeare, Mark Twain 50. 1898, New World Discoveries, Frank M. Bristol 51. 1905, Shaw and Shakespeare, W. D. Howells 52. 1906, Shakespeare in America, George B. Churchill 53. 1907, Introduction to The Tempest, Henry James 54. 1907, The Response of Concord, Henry James 55. 1909, Is Shakespeare Dead?, Mark Twain 56. 1911, Shakespeare Spells Ruin, William Winter 57. 1913, Shakespeare and his Audience, Brander Matthews 58. 1914, Shakespeare and America: The Perpetual Ambassador of the English-Speaking World, Charles William Wallace 59. 1917, Shakespeare and the Founders of Liberty in America, Charles Mill Gayley 60. 1927, Shakespeare in America, Ashley Thorndike.
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