Chapter

“Revelation to US”

John Gatta

in Making Nature Sacred

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780195165050
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835140 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195165055.003.0005
 “Revelation to US”

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By the early nineteenth century, in writings by Bryant, Cooper, and Emerson, one can observe a growing Romantic tendency to imagine Nature in religious terms--as a favored site of worship and a source of revelation largely superseding the Christian scriptures. Both literary artists and Hudson River painters highlighted their impressions of the sacred sublime in American landscapes. And as civilized settlements continued to replace the older freedom of life on the frontier, James Fenimore Cooper dramatized the problematic ethical consequences of this change in his Leatherstocking novels, above all in The Pioneers. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s vision of the nonhuman world as divine “cosmos,” or “beauty” is most memorably presented in his book Nature (1836), which celebrates the intersection between Nature and Civilization he discovered on the “common” space of a village green in Concord, Massachusetts. Emerson’s poem “The Adirondacs,” which describes a camping excursion interrupted by news of laying the first transatlantic telegraph cable, underscores the point that no part of nature could henceforth be wholly removed from human presence or influence.

Keywords: revelation; sublime; Bryant; James Fenimore Cooper; frontier; Leatherstocking; Ralph Waldo Emerson; common; cosmos; “Adirondacs”

Chapter.  14124 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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