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Download PDF by Sean McCann: A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential

By Sean McCann

There isn't any extra strong image in American political lifestyles than the presidency, and similar to presidential energy has had no much less profound an impression on American fiction. A top of Feeling is the 1st publication to ascertain twentieth-century literature's deep fascination with the trendy presidency and with the guidelines concerning the dating among nation energy and democracy that underwrote the increase of presidential authority. Sean McCann demanding situations triumphing serious 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 solid the executive government because the agent of the sovereign will of the yank humans. They seen the president as preferably a countrywide redeemer, and so they took that perfect as a version and rival for his or her personal paintings. A top of Feeling illuminates the basic drawback with democratic sovereignty that informs the main leading edge literary works of the 20th century, and exhibits how those works helped redefine and bring up the position of govt strength in American tradition.

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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. His Position Takes the Imagination of the Country: Making a Modern Presidency In fact, Woodrow Wilson, who would become one leading actor in bringing it about, predicted that reversal.

Had felt” that the newspapers should carry “his story,” discovers that once they do, he beINTRODUCTION 28 comes not the dictator, but the helpless scapegoat of an enraged people (256, emphasis in original). But the point is still more subtly indicated when, encountering the brutal private detective Britten, Bigger sees “in the very look of the man’s eyes . . his own personality reflected in narrow, restricted terms” (176). A cruel parody of “the response of recognition” that Bigger desperately seeks in the novel’s final book, Britten’s reflection points to a world characterized from top to bottom by cruelty and coercion—in which, Wright implies, the power to dominate, shadowed always by the knowledge of its own impermanence, can only sustain itself through the constant exercise of violence and fear (420).

What we have to determine now,” Wilson wrote in his own campaign for the office, “is whether we are big enough, whether we are men enough, whether INTRODUCTION 19 we are free enough, to take possession again of the government which is our own. . ”78 Alongside the rise in executive power that the theory helped justify, such attitudes would make the presidency the vastly predominant element of twentiethcentury American politics. Over the course of the century, executive power would become the center of the most serious political struggles, the object of the most intense emotional and ideological investment, and the agent of the most consequential actions.

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