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Charles Brockden Brown

Unlikely Bedfellows?: Conservative and Progressive Sensibilities in American Literature

The stimulating posts and discussions about Saul Bellow over the past few days had me thinking about what constitutes good literature. For it seems to me, in light of such debates, that most—if not all—accomplished authors and arresting novels evince a certain conglomeration of conservative and progressive themes. Perhaps this is not so mysterious—inasmuch as we might regard anxiety and hope as the dominant emotional structures underscoring conservative and progressive inclinations, respectively. What could be more alluring than an ambivalent text that applies pressure on the reader’s intellectual and moral makeup from myriad angles? Read more