From Battlefields Rising: How The Civil War Transformed American Literature  -     By: Randall Fuller
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From Battlefields Rising: How The Civil War Transformed American Literature

Oxford University Press / 2014 / Paperback

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Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 272
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 9.25 X 6.13 (inches)
ISBN: 0199360715
ISBN-13: 9780199360710

Publisher's Description

When Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in April of 1861, Walt Whitman declared it "the volcanic upheaval of the nation"--the bloody inception of a war that would dramatically alter the shape and character of American culture along with its political, racial, and social landscape. Prior to the war, America's leading writers had been integral to helping the young nation imagine itself, assert its beliefs, and realize its immense potential. When the Civil War erupted, it forced them to witness not only unimaginable human carnage on the battlefield, but also the disintegration of the foundational symbolic order they had helped to create. The war demanded new frameworks for understanding the world and new forms of communication that could engage with the immensity of the conflict. It fostered both social and cultural experimentation.

Now available in paperback, From Battlefields Rising explores the profound impact of the war on writers including Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, and Frederick Douglass. As the writers of the time grappled with the war's impact on the individual and the national psyche, their responses multiplied and transmuted. Whitman's poetry and prose, for example, was chastened and deepened by his years spent ministering to wounded soldiers; off the battlefield, the anguish of war would come to suffuse the austere, elliptical poems that Emily Dickinson was writing from afar; and Hawthorne was rendered silent by his reading of military reports and talks with soldiers. Calling into question every prior presumption and ideal, the war forever changed America's early idealism-and consequently its literature-into something far more ambivalent and raw.

An absorbing group portrait of the period's most important writers, From Battlefields Rising flashes with forgotten historical details and elegant new ideas. It alters previous perceptions about the evolution of American literature and how Americans have understood and expressed their common history.

Author Bio


Randall Fuller is the Chapman Professor of English at the University of Tulsa.

Editorial Reviews


"When the volcano of Civil War erupted in 1861, American literature had already achieved maturity in the writings of Emerson, Melville, Whitman, Hawthorne, and others. All of them, plus new voices like Emily Dickinson, tried to understand and express the profound meaning of the war in their writings, which Randall Fuller skillfully dissects in this original and incisive volume."-James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom


"In this lucid and insightful work, Randall Fuller probes the creative and intellectual responses of some of the nation's greatest writers to the Civil War. The result is a luminous and revealing portrait of American literary culture in a period of volcanic eruption."-Louis P. Masur, author of The Civil War: A Concise History


"This is a beautiful, powerful book, uniting the pivotal event of American history with the defining literature of the nation. Fuller's account is filled with humanity, eloquence, and surprise. Anyone who reads this book will see both the Civil War and America's iconic authors with new eyes."--Edward Ayers, author of In The Presence of Mine Enemies


"Fuller's book is a moving excursion through the writers who found their language altered by the convulsions of the American Civil War. From Alcott to Emerson, Dickinson to Douglass, Melville to Hawthorne, Fuller traces connections both familiar and strange, granting careful attention to new literary configurations in the wake of war."-Shirley Samuels, author of Facing America: Iconography and the Civil War


"Highly recommended." -Library Journal


"A fresh and fascinating look not only at Melville, Emerson, Whitman, and Hawthorne but at lesser lights and the loyalties that drove them...It should stand high on any must-read list of books, old or new, as we move into the Civil War anniversary years." -The Weekly Standard


"When it comes to the Civil War, there's no poem or novel or even author who leaves us saying: This is the one who got it right, who captured what the war meant and what it felt like. Now one scholar has come up with a new angle on this very old problem. In "From Battlefields Rising: How the Civil War Transformed American Literature," Randall Fuller reminds us that the 1860s featured as talented a cohort of American writers as any decade could ask for." -The Boston Globe


"An engaging story...Fuller is a gifted storyteller...Well-researched, well-written, and well worth the read." -Civil War Book Review


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