American Characteristics and Other Essays

American Characteristics and Other Essays

Published: 1979
Type: Essays

This is a posthumous collection of essays and scholarly articles on theatre, literature, authors, works, and defining aspects of the American character as exhibited in classic American literature (e.g., Melville, Thoreau, Dickinson). The three “American Characteristics Essays” were first delivered as lectures in the 1959/1951 academic year at Harvard University when Wilder was the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry, and subsequently revised for publication in the Atlantic Monthly in 1952. Many studies of Wilder’s plays and novels have applied these analyses of American culture and literature to his own writing.

Table of Contents
Editor’s Note
Foreword by Isabel Wilder

American Characteristics
— Toward an American Language (1952)
— The American Loneliness (1952)
— Emily Dickinson (1952)

Culture in a Democracy (1957)

On Drama and the Theater
— Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex (1955)
— George Bernard Shaw (1968)
— Foreword to The Angel That Troubled the Waters and Other Plays (1928)
— A Preface for Our Town (1938)
— Preface to Three Plays (1957)
— Noting the Nature of Farce (1939)
— Some Thoughts on Playwriting (1941)
— Richard Beer-Hofmann’s Jaakobs Traum (1946)

Goethe and World Literature (1949)

On Reading the Great Letter Writers (1928)

James Joyce
— James Joyce, 1882-1941 (1941)
— Joyce and the Modern Novel (1954)

Gertrude Stein
— Gertrude Stein’s Narration (1935)
— Gertrude Stein’s The Geographical History of America (1936)
— Gertrude Stein’s Four in America (1947)

— Frederick J. E. Woodbridge, 1867-1940 (1942)
— Christian Bérard, 1902-1949 (1949)
— John Marin, 1870-1953 (1955)
— Thomas Mann, 1875-1955 (1957)
— Chauncey Brewster Tinker, 1876-1963 (1964)

Sir Philip Sassoon’s The Third Route (1929)

Appendix: Three Research Papers
— New Aids Toward Dating the Early Plays of Lope de Vega (1952)
— Lope, Pinedo, Some Child Actors, and a Lion (1953)
— Giordano Bruno’s Last Meal in Finnegans Wake (1963)


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