Anne Bradstreet And Jonathan Edwards Essay

In his "Personal Narrative," Jonathan Edwards describes how, as a boy, he set up a small religious shrine deep in the woods and went there to imitate the church services that he himself would eventually lead.By contrast, Franklin describes how, as a boy, he had stolen some stones in order to set up a kind of fishing pier for his friends' use; the effort was a punishable mistake, but it foreshadowed--Franklin implies--the public works projects that he would eventually guide.

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There’s something that we do, a Romantic, utopian ideal of poetry as revelation at the same instant it’s a fall into fracture and trespass.” As a literary scholar, Howe is predisposed to iconoclasm and animism in the manner of those who have sought or portrayed revelation through unorthodox ways.

“The patriotic zeal of local antiquarian scholarship is often doctrinal [and] it confirms a community’s need to flatter current misconceptions,” she warns in “Frame Structures.” In contrast, her project excavates experiential and intuitive truths; in “Errand” she writes, “I believed in an American aesthetic of uncertainty that could represent beauty in syllables so scarce and rushed they would appear to expand though they lay half-smothered in local history.” Her Dickinson text was followed by interview as “my favorite twentieth-century poet.” Of Stevens’ often neglected final poems, she writes, “As if from some unfathomable source, knowledge derived from sense perception fails, and the unreality of what seems most real floods over us …

his writing locates, rescues, and delivers what is various and vagrant in the near at hand.” A failure to consider the near at hand was the crime that Randall Jarrell accused Stevens of committing, but Howe does what Jarrell could not – she reads the poems as they insist on being read. One shivery sentence sums up her mode: “Secret perceptions in readers draw near to the secret perceptions in authors.” The most affecting essay here is “The Disappearance Approach” (2010), an extended elegy for her second husband, the philosopher Peter Hare, who died in 2008.

The essay leaps to Spinoza, quoting Stevens’ correspondence on that philosopher. She speaks about the day he died, pivots to the death of Jonathan Edwards, and shoots vectors to Auden, Poussin, Ovid, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale, William Gass, Hölderlin, and Milton.

For the elect, salvation came by grace alone and God willingly dispensed it – but even so, the saints in the wilderness were dazzled and disturbed by the wildness and the spirit it embodied.

Howe inherited this perspective at the level of genetics.In such moments the difference between Edwards and Franklin becomes quite clear.Yet Franklin's debts to the Puritan culture that bore him were enormous.The tide washed her body up on land that eventually became the Howe farm.” Howe admits that her liberated meanderings don’t always pan out.“I get these obsessions,” she says, “and follow trails that often end up being squirrel paths.” The quarry is elusive – and also, a location near her Connecticut home.His theology, such as it was, remained "deistic." This means that he conceived of God as a necessary cause; a creative force that had designed the cosmos and set it in motion according to rational laws, but, having done so, had withdrawn from human affairs.To Franklin, this deity was no longer a present, providential force in one's daily life, but a distant and detached fact.The philosopher and inventor Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) is the subject of her essay “Arisbe.” Peirce’s neologism “Synechism” is a term describing a tendency of a mind that regards everything as continuous.Everything includes apparitions and, as Jonathan Edwards put it, “unexplained spirits.” The restlessly creative Peirce was shunned by society.We were alert to the subliminal disjunction between actual and fictional cinematographic realism shown in theaters.” Nevertheless, Howe isn’t a writer who cultivates an outraged innocence.In her essays, she peers at artifacts with an insider’s confidence, probing her genealogical and literary roots, quite at home among the mysteries.


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