The Real American Dream (häftad)
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Häftad (Paperback / softback)
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New ed
Harvard University Press
191 x 130 x 11 mm
163 g
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The Real American Dream

A Meditation on Hope

Häftad,  Engelska, 2000-09-01
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Since we discovered that, in Tocquevilles words, the incomplete joys of this world will never satisfy the heart, how have we Americans made do? In The Real American Dream one of the nations premier literary scholars searches out the symbols and stories by which Americans have reached for something beyond worldly desire. A spiritual history ranging from the first English settlements to the present day, the book is also a lively, deeply learned meditation on hope. Andrew Delbanco tells of the stringent God of Protestant Christianity, who exerted immense force over the language, institutions, and customs of the culture for nearly 200 years. He describes the falling away of this God and the rise of the idea of a sacred nation-state. And, finally, he speaks of our own moment, when symbols of nationalism are in decline, leaving us with nothing to satisfy the longing for transcendence once sustained by God and nation. From the Christian story that expressed the earliest Puritan yearnings to New Age spirituality, apocalyptic environmentalism, and the multicultural search for ancestral roots that divert our own, The Real American Dream evokes the tidal rhythm of American history. It shows how Americans have organized their days and ordered their livesand ultimately created a cultureto make sense of the pain, desire, pleasure, and fear that are the stuff of human experience. In a time of cultural crisis, when the old stories seem to be faltering, this book offers a lesson in the painstaking remaking of the American dream.
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In a tour de force of thoughtful intellectual and cultural history, the author reflects broadly on the history of the American dream. Moving deftly from the Puritans to contemporary America, Delbanco laments the loss of a common culture in our modern commercialized New Age. As a meditation on hope he follows Emerson, who wrote: let us do what we can to rekindle the smouldering nigh quenched fire on the altar. * Virginia Quarterly Review * Andrew Delbanco is one of Americas most acute and perceptive cultural critics [This is] a beautifully written book. -- Richard Rorty * New York Times Book Review * One wishes that Delbanco had had more space to develop the nuances he plays like a cellist using vibrato Delbanco, among the most astute and original scholars of history and literature, wisely and convincingly develops the point made by Tocqueville: Faith is the only permanent state of mankind. By plumbing the faith of our fathers and mothersits wrinkles and rosy cheekswe can begin to rededicate ourselves to a new story of transcendence. -- Joshua Wolf Shenk * Washington Post * God, Nation, and Self: through these, writes Delbanco in these essays (so brief, yet so pertinent), the citizens of the U.S. have given their lives meaning to ward off melancholy, that logical belief in a hopeless future. Puritan Calvinism seems benign next to consumerist Calvinism. Thats Calvinism as in Calvin Klein, where the free individualthe U.S.s great gift to the worldis marooned in a perpetual present, playing alone with its baubles, and the ache for meaning goes unrelieved. But Delbancos wit is itself the measure of the land of the free. -- Vera Rule * The Guardian * The fundamental question for the American mind, Andrew Delbanco says in The Real American Dream, has always been how to find release from this feeling of living without propulsion and without aim; what he has written is a short but deeply literate history of this quest, one by turns witty and affecting. -- Andrew Stark * Times Literary Supplement * It must be terribly satisfying to hear Andrew Delbanco speak. The Real American Dream, a series of lectures he gave at Harvard in 1998, is filled with impressive oratory. He manages sermons and political speeches with facility, invoking great voices from our nations history to contemplate the present state of the American Dream. Buttressing these far-reaching speeches with the quieter arts of poetry and prose, Delbanco builds a broad yet detailed history of hope in the United States Lucid empathy permeates Delbancos chapters, and earns the books subtitle, A Meditation on Hope. -- Doug Elder * Boston Book Review * Self, Delbanco points out, will surely prove an empty, unsatisfying, and ultimately self-defeating object of worship. Unless we recover some sense of a common good, he suspects, we may be headed for moral collapseor worse yet, the rise of some nefarious ideology or movement. Delbanco does not believe that the apocalyptic rough beast of despotism is right around the corneror inevitable. But he offers his jeremiad as a timely warning and a reminder of things that matter. -- Merle Rubin * Christian Science Monitor * According to Andrew Delbanco, todays consumerism exists to assuage our spiritual emptiness Lurking behind our credit-card debt is the suspicion that our shopping sprees equate to nothing more than fidgeting while we wait to die. In [his] conclusion, Delbanco[directs] to our attention the elemental human need to believe in something larger than the insular self, and identifies the solutions that filled this need in the past. These solutions are thoughtfully presented as guidance for us now. -- Kassie Rose * Columbus Dispatch * A critical premise of this remarkable book about creating hope in an absurd world is Delbancos definition of culture. He refers to it as a sustaining narrative that provides stories an

Övrig information

Andrew Delbanco is the Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.


Prologue GOD NATION SELF Notes Index