By Douglas Anderson
An entire diversity of yank writers have fascinated about pictures of family, household advantage, and the female or feminized hero. this crucial new booklet examines the patience and suppleness of such subject matters within the paintings of vintage writers from Ann Bradstreet via Jefferson and Franklin to Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Emily Dickinson. with out minimizing the variations that divide those figures, Anderson indicates the level to which, of their numerous conditions, they have been all dedicated to a standard enterprise--a social and cultural reconstruction according to the family values of the fitting deepest family.
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Additional info for A House Undivided: Domesticity and Community in American Literature
Bees' wax may be an unwelcome intruder in one's honey, but its presence there is anything but unnatural. Accordingly, though the best Christian may have the least self-love, Bradstreet is more "THIS GREAT HOUSEHOLD UPON THE EARTH" 25 than prepared to take a forgiving attitude toward that residue of egotism, provided that it does not try to assert itself too openly. Like many of her best meditations, the analogies in this one have a benevolently corrective effect upon its dogmatic basis. Just as Winthrop recognized in his closing exhortations to "A Modell of Christian Charity," it is clearly desirable to struggle against the self, but it is entirely natural that the struggle should be at least a partial failure.
221) Bradstreet is both a chagrined parent and an analogue for God in these seemingly modest lines. She is apologizing for her artistic inadequacies and asserting an extraordinary potency all at once - a potency that both evokes and dismisses the figure of the absent father. At the same time, Bradstreet's omnipotent motherhood is marked by the typological net- "THIS GREAT HOUSEHOLD UPON THE EARTH" 21 work that Winthrop exploited in his portrait of an equally affectionate and powerful Eve. Like Eve, Bradstreet the author is implicated in the "defects" of her crippled verse.
It is clear that her sense of a mother's role (and voice) is any- 26 A HOUSE UNDIVIDED thing but stereotypically simple. This same sort of complexity is present as well in the poems that reflect her status as wife. The verse letters to her husband are among the most memorable of Bradstreet's poems, not only because of the enthusiasm with which they celebrate married love, but because of the nature of the love that they celebrate. Bradstreet always writes from the perspective of the homebound wife who wants her busy partner to return; yet just as the vulnerability of "In Reference to Her Children" is mutual, so the dependence between husband and wife is mutual in Bradstreet's love poems.
A House Undivided: Domesticity and Community in American Literature by Douglas Anderson