By Sean McCann
There's no extra robust image in American political existence than the presidency, and a dead ringer for presidential energy has had no much less profound an impression on American fiction. A top of Feeling is the 1st booklet to envision twentieth-century literature's deep fascination with the trendy presidency and with the tips concerning the dating among country energy and democracy that underwrote the increase of presidential authority. Sean McCann demanding situations triumphing severe interpretations via revelatory new readings of significant writers, together with Richard Wright, Gertrude Stein, Henry Roth, Zora Neale Hurston, Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, Norman Mailer, Don Delillo, and Philip Roth. He argues that those writers not just represented or satirized presidents, yet echoed political thinkers who forged the manager government because the agent of the sovereign will of the yank humans. They considered the president as preferably a countrywide redeemer, they usually took that excellent as a version and rival for his or her personal paintings. A top of Feeling illuminates the elemental crisis with democratic sovereignty that informs the main leading edge literary works of the 20 th century, and indicates how those works helped redefine and increase the position of govt energy in American tradition.
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Additional resources for A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential Government (20 21)
In this fashion, the modern presidency from its first conception became a symbolic as much as a political office—not merely because the creation of the national media and the decline of the parties made imagery and rhetoric increasingly central, but also because in its therapeutic promise to overcome the problems of representation and to exemplify the ideal harmony of a people and its state, the modern presidency has seemed as important for what its occupants are and for the qualities they display as for the actions that they take or the policies they endorse.
Presidential mediocrity was a product of a nation that little valued statesmanship and of a political system that privileged party loyalty and regional competition, Bryce suggested, echoing Tocqueville. But still more serious was the influence of a constitutional order that limited executive power. So long as the president’s “main duties are to be prompt and firm in securing the due execution of the laws and maintaining the public peace,” Bryce noted, “eloquence, . . ”54 While he wrote, a rising generation of intellectuals and politicians was already beginning to imagine a reversal of this state of affairs.
My purpose,” he wrote in Black Boy, “was to capture a physical state or movement that carried strong subjective impressions . . [t]o fasten the mind of the reader upon words so firmly that he would forget words and be conscious only of his response” (280). It was fitting that Wright should find an analogue for that project INTRODUCTION 25 in the, albeit falsely, inspiring rhetoric of presidential politicians. For, both in its tone and more seriously in its implicit theory of communication, Wright’s call for imaginative identification resembled the visions of rhetorical leadership shared by the models of executive government prominent at the time.
A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential Government (20 21) by Sean McCann