The darned 4th chapter

I have been struggling with a forgotten relic of the 19th century American lit of the antebellum period. In fact, the novel itself, by Robert Henry Newell, is very little evidence of utopian thinking in this period. What it does reveal is that paper itself was a kind of utopia — an entrance point to a literate culture that could subsist on anti-woke dreams and romances. The novel ‘Avery Gleebun; between two fires’ (1857) is a tough read because of its paper thin characters and intense sentimentality.

But given that the most that people could afford at the time was a Bible and a few scattered religious tracts, the popular novel (of the time) had (HAD) to be sentimental. It is a work of literature with a few choice gems scattered in between pages of almost impenetrable sentimental dialogue. But why this work & its author fell into the forgotten list of antebellum authors who were NOT Hawthorne, Poe, and Melville is a blessed mystery that I am trying to unravel.

This novel has struck my interest, as well as the Orpheus C. Kerr (a pun based on “Off-Ice See-Ker”) Papers, has relaunched my study into the history of print in the 19th century. This begins and ends with William Charvat’s ‘Literary Publishing in America 1790-1850,’ a book that I have yet to fully read and truly appreciate. I’m going to try to read and take notes in hopes that a Ch. 4 of the dissertation will emerge.

I still remember that ‘God gives us the privilege of seeing the right’ to quote A. Lincoln, the 16th president and a fan of R. H. Newell’s work. So it will take a mountain of prayer to get over this hill which is also a kind of desert. I hope to emerge from it unscathed, but fear that it may be everlong (Foo Fighters’ song) an issue that never gets resolved. I hope that I am able to get a bird’s eye view of this chapter but it may not happen.

Sea of paper

The Blithedale Romance (or bust)

I’ve been reading and rereading this account (By Nathaniel Hawthorne) of the Fourierist utopian colony Brook Farm founded by George Ripley. My interest has shifted over time, but the main point here is that the colony is a strange amalgam of Christianity and socialism in a way that would never be possible today. The hours of reading often lead nowhere. I am still chugging away at this thing, but it’s become an obsession that never ends. I’m not getting much sleep at this point.

The main issue is that distractions keep coming up that frustrate my efforts to remain focused. One of those is FIFA 22 for the XBOX. But the old stuff that I used to do, mainly fantasy YA lit for my son, keeps coming up. I am redoubling my efforts by taking retreats to hotels in the North GA mountains in order to focus solely on this project.

I can honestly say that this is the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do professionally. No one should go into a PhD program lightly. It takes everything you have and more if you want to succeed. I’m glad at least that I still have time to put down the tchotchkes that muddle the brain and refocus. It’s going to take a Metamorphosis of the type that Kafka relates in his novella of the same name.

I hope that my fans from the YA lit take it to heart, b/c these advanced degrees are not so easy to get. But I do believe that it will be worth it in the end. I just have the worst insomnia, and some dizziness. Looking forward to the day when this whole thing will be done. But I need a mix tape of jarring discordant melodies to get me to sleep sometimes. I recommend Silver Dapple.

I’m glad to post this, b/c for the longest time it seemed that I was locked out of my account.