Transamerican Literary Relations and the Nineteenth-Century by Anna Brickhouse

By Anna Brickhouse

Brickhouse's major argument, albeit a lot simplified, is that the nineteenth century American literature, written in English, was once inextricably associated with writings and audiences in French and Spanish.

She provides comparative perspectives of yank literature, from the perspective of French and Spanish writers. the place the Spanish literature could be from Cuba or Mexico. And the French from mainland France or from the French colonies or ex-colonies within the Americas.

It is a richer, subtler view than that regularly espoused in English-only analyses of nineteenth century United States.

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Jicot´encal fictionalizes the events leading up to this historical alliance, which it casts as the initial tragedy that brought about the eventual outcome of the conquest. The novel begins with Cort´es’s treacherous capture of the eponymous hero’s beloved, the beautiful Teutila, The transamerican genealogies of Jicot´encal 39 with whom both the brutal Spanish captain and his upstanding soldier Diego de Ordaz become infatuated. Within this triangle of desire for Teutila, Cort´es’s mistress Do˜na Marina appears first as a menacing femme fatale, seducing the virtuous Ordaz and then attempting to ensnare the even more virtuous Jicot´encal, until her pregnancy by Cort´es is revealed.

Despite its limited audience, however, the journal continued to flourish in the 1830s, the years of Andrew Jackson’s presidency and the onset of the “golden age” of magazines, when social upheaval and rising literacy rates demanded a more democratic appeal in most successful periodicals. Retaining its distinguished reputation into the twentieth century, the Review published the work of almost every major US writer, from the early poetry and essays of William Cullen Bryant through the late-century contributions of Henry James and William Dean Howells.

By mid-century, some decades after the publication of Channing’s foundational essay, Emerson was proclaiming the urgency of emancipation in both national and hemispheric arenas. In the national context, Emerson’s focus on emancipation was initially metaphorical. Poetical rather than political, the forms of liberation he envisioned for the United States gave shape to his own reputation as the leading free thinker of his times, the ostensible patriarch of what many have since called a “truly American” tradition in letters.

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