Spirits of America: Intoxication of Nineteenth-Century American Literature
Spirits of America is the first book-length study of intoxication as represented in nineteenth-century American literature. Emphasizing the writings ... Show synopsis Spirits of America is the first book-length study of intoxication as represented in nineteenth-century American literature. Emphasizing the writings of such major figures as Emerson, Dickinson, Poe, Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, Alcott, and Stowe, Nicholas O. Warner combines literary analysis with sociohistorical perspectives to examine social and literary discourses of intoxicant use. Warner analyzes the literary treatment of alcoholism, drunkenness, "normal" drinking, drug addiction, and intoxicant choice, showing how these issues tie in with larger, crucial questions in American culture such as personal and political freedom, gender roles, individualism versus conformity, and the American Dream. In demonstrating both the literal and symbolic significance of intoxication in antebellum literature, the author reveals the surprising extent to which intoxication became associated with literature itself and with supposedly literary values, as opposed to those of the emerging industrial-capitalist nation. Spirits of America demonstrates the pervasiveness, complexity, and significance of an often neglected but important subject in American literature, one that touches on basic aspects of human behavior, perception, and consciousness and that has preoccupied many of our greatest writers. A significant contribution to the field of American studies, this book will appeal to literary scholars, historians, and anyone with an interest in issues of alcohol and drug use.