American Incarnation:: The Individual, the Nation, and the Continent
- Publisher / Date: Harvard University Press, 1986
Professor Jehlen sketches the evolution of the concept of incarnation through comparisons of American and European eighteenth-century naturalist writings, particularly Emerson's Nature. She then explores the way incarnation functions ideologically--to both enable and curtail action--in the writing of fiction. Her examination of Hawthorne and Melville shows how the myth of the New World both licensed and limited American writers who set out to create their own worlds in fiction. She examines conflicts between the exigencies of narrative form and the imperatives of ideology in the writings of Franklin, Jefferson, Emerson, and others. Jehlen concludes with a speculation on the implication of this original construction of "America" for the United States today, when such imperial concepts have been called into question.