Download Secular Revelations: The Constitution of the United States by Mitchell Meltzer PDF

By Mitchell Meltzer

The usa structure, battleground of a politically bifurcated country, and sponsor of that nation's now threatened cultural cohesion, is a quintessentially political rfile. american citizens' representatives swear loyalty to it, and her squaddies die for it. but nobody has ever heavily thought of the formative impression this record, so important a strength for all americans, has had on American cultural existence. Now, during this formidable e-book, Mitchell Meltzer has for the 1st time validated the level to which the structure is either resource and idea for America's maximum literary masterworks.

Retelling the background of the Constitution's formation, Meltzer explains how the chiefly paradoxical type of the structure, its "secular revelation," underwent a literary rebirth after the passing of the Founders' iteration, and issued in what's strangest and such a lot attribute in America's vintage literature. through combining the secular with the printed, a Constitutional poetics effects that provides upward thrust, in either politics and literature, to the formation of extra ideal unions.

Offering strong new views on Lincoln, Emerson, Whitman, and Melville, Meltzer unearths how the structure counterintuitively generated such oft-noted traits as those writers' penchant for self-contradiction, their willingness to court docket radical discontinuity, and their intensely conflicted, romance-directed fictions.

Secular Revelations offers the structure in a brand new function, the muse of a good nationwide literature.

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Additional resources for Secular Revelations: The Constitution of the United States and Classic American Literature

Sample text

Yes. Did it favor established elites? Yes. Was it antidemocratic? Yes, to the extent that it assured that politics would be primarily the business of prominent men, with each state possessing only two senators and each House member representing some 30,000 people, with long terms—six and two years, respectively—and the Senate, along with the presidency, elected only indirectly by the People. But it was certainly a republican government, democratic in the sense that ultimately the governors could rule only with the consent of the governed.

To adjust the clashing pretensions of the large and small States. Each of these objects was pregnant with difficulties. The whole of them together formed a task more difficult than can be well conceived by those who were not concerned with the execution of it. 5 This acknowledgment of the “this-worldly” political origin of the Constitution, only to be followed by an almost-assertion of its miraculous quality is a surprisingly typical response. 6 Even a simple assertion of the secularity of the Constitution’s framing often feels the need to begin with an explicit denial of a divine inspiration, as Robert Morris does in concluding with what seems the obvious: “While some have boasted it is a work from Heaven .

When the history involves so primal a realm as a people or a state’s foundation, the lure of the mythic becomes almost irresistible. 9 For however vigorously some historians have adopted a perspective critical of the Constitution as a fulfillment of the promises of the Revolution, no organized political force after the ratification ever did. As Lance Banning summarized the political conditions of the new Union’s first decade: As early as the spring of 1791 the Constitution was accepted on all sides as the starting point for further debates.

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