Representative Texts from Hawthorne to Dickinson

In your daily busyness you are pressed for time to think and often choose instead anesthetization – watching any number of “boutique” and highly produced television shows. These may be good, but like most in the “televisual” medium, they are not meant to be indelible. I don’t just cast aspersions outward…

Let us choose to think. Here are representative pieces of American Literature (USA) that I know fairly well. But also included are works I’ve wanted to read and haven’t yet. This is my “educational” bias, having studied these in college and maintained an interest in “maturity” (!)

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It can’t be a surprise that these were written in proximal time and space, but it’s still amazing to think about Concord, MA and how many of our great writers called it home. It is of course near Boston and not too far away is Amherst (Dickinson) and Pittsfield (where Melville wrote Moby Dick and Pierre). Of course New York City (Whitman) and Baltimore (Poe) are here as well.

Anyway, the only true reading is re-reading…so, spend some time making good use of time rather than simply allowing it to pass. As Henry would say, improve the nick of it.

Hawthorne – “Young Goodman Brown” – 1835
Emerson – “Nature” – 1836
Poe – “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “William Wilson” – 1839
Poe – “Murders in the Rue Morgue” – 1841
Emerson – “Self-Reliance” and “Circles” – 1841
Hawthorne – “The Birth-Mark” – 1843
Hawthorne – “The Artist of the Beautiful” – 1844
Emerson – “Experience” and “The Poet” – 1844
Margaret Fuller – Woman in the Nineteenth Century – 1845
Melville – Typee – 1846
Poe – Eureka: A Prose Poem – 1848
Thoreau – On Resistance to Civil Government – 1849
Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter – 1850
Emerson – “Michel de Montaigne” “Plato” “Shakespeare” – 1850
Melville – Moby Dick – 1851
Hawthorne – “Ethan Brand—A Chapter from an Abortive Romance” – 1852
Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Melville – “Bartleby, the Scrivener” – 1853
Walden – 1854
Melville – “The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids” “Benito Cereno”- 1855
Frederick Douglass – My Bondage and My Freedom – 1855
Leaves of Grass – 1855: “Song of Myself” “Sleepers” “I Sing the Body Electric”
Leaves of Grass – 1856: “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (originally “Sun-Down Poem”)
Leaves of Grass – 1860: “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life” “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”
Leaves of Grass – 1865: “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”
Thoreau – “A Plea for Captain John Brown” – 1859
Emerson – “Fate” “Power” – 1860
Thoreau – “Walking” – 1862
Elizabeth Stoddard – The Morgesons – 1862
Dickinson – “There’s a Certain Slant of Light” (320) “From Blank to Blank” (484) – 1862
Dickinson – “I Heard a Fly Buzz” (591) “The Tint I Cannot Take – Is Best” (696) “My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun” (764) 1863
Melville – Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War – 1866
Louisa May Alcott – Little Women – 1869


They shut me up in Prose –
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet –
Because they liked me “still” –

Still! Could themself had peeped –
And seen my Brain – go round –
They might as wise haved lodged a Bird
For Treason – in the Pound –

Himself has but to will
And easy as a Star
Look down upon Captivity –
And laugh – no more have I –
(445) 1862

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