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American Literature Internationale: Translation, Strike, and the Time of Political Possibility

American Literature Internationale: Translation, Strike, and the Time of Political Possibility

Chapter:
(p.65) 2 American Literature Internationale: Translation, Strike, and the Time of Political Possibility
Source:
Beautiful Democracy
Author(s):
Russ Castronovo
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226096308.003.0003

This chapter considers several connected variants of “the international,” ranging from issues of translation to the specter of the worldwide revolt of the working class. Its archive is the most traditional and literary of all the chapters in this book, with chunks of analysis devoted to Walt Whitman and William Dean Howells. At the same time, however, the competing attention that the chapter gives to texts about dynamite, bomb making, and socialist revolution leads it unapologetically in a different direction, toward the radical dissolution of tradition. These diverging trajectories each gain initial impetus in aesthetic forms associated with crowds, collective pleasure, and shared pain. Such spectacles and feelings gave proof of the organic unity of national culture even as they veered toward undeniably foreign elements that stood in anarchic opposition to social order. This skid toward the foreign represents a road seldom taken in United States cultural politics.

Keywords:   crowds, collective pleasure, shared pain, working class, Walt Whitman, William Dean Howells, dynamite, bomb making, socialist revolution, cultural politics

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