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Atlantic CitizensNineteenth-Century American Writers at Work in the World$
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Leslie Eckel

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748669370

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748669370.001.0001

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Longfellow and the Volume of the World

Longfellow and the Volume of the World

(p.19) Chapter 1 Longfellow and the Volume of the World
Atlantic Citizens

Leslie Elizabeth Eckel

Edinburgh University Press

Accused of parading as ‘a Dandy in the clean and elegantly ornamented streets and trim gardens of his verse,’ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow drew the ire of literary nationalist peers who insisted that his reverence for Old World tradition stifled American creativity. As a professor of European languages and literatures, however, a surprisingly radical Longfellow fought to give Americans access to a cosmopolitan education in open lectures, anthologies, and translations. In his reading of Dante and Goethe, he searched for universal elements of literature, which he invoked to counteract nativist claims made by the Young Americans, whom he satirized as jingoists in his novel Kavanagh (1849). In his narrative poem Evangeline (1847), Longfellow puts his theory of literary universalism into practice as he shapes an American landscape ruled by emotion, not territorial conquest.

Keywords:   Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, Dante Alighieri, Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Education, Europe, Anthologies, Translations, Emotion, Kavanagh, Evangeline

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