The Trumpet of Reform: German Literature in Nineteenth-century New England
Camden House, 1998 - 211 pages
German literature played an important part in the formation of the minds and imaginations of progressive nineteenth-century New England intellectuals; this study looks especially at the Transcendentalists of the Concord circle, presenting five portraits of authors and their worlds -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, and Louisa May Alcott -- showing that each had a peculiarly productive relationship with the literature and intellectual traditions of Germany.
The two main chapters of this study are devoted to Emerson and Fuller. Emerson learned German in order to read Goethe, even taking Goethe's Italienische Reise with him as hisvade mecum when he made his own Italian pilgrimage. Margaret Fuller's extraordinary knowledge of Goethe served her well in her position as editor of the Dial from 1840 to 1842, during which time she translated fromGerman and wrote essays on German subjects. The attention Bauschinger devotes to this journal clarifies the extent of the intellectual engagement Americans enjoyed with German thought and letters in its pages. The three shorter chapters on Thoreau and the Alcotts (father and daughter) concentrate on the inspirational role German literature played in various times of their lives. Sigrid Bauschinger teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst; Thomas S. Hansen is professor of German at Wellesley College.
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