Chapter

The Soul Rests <i>Stephen Vincent Benét and the Silencing of</i> John Brown's Body

R. Blakeslee Gilpin

in John Brown Still Lives!

Published by University of North Carolina Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780807835012
Published online July 2014 | e-ISBN: 9781469602608
The Soul Rests Stephen Vincent Benét and the Silencing of John Brown's Body

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This chapter focuses on Vincent Benet's epic poem, John Brown's Body, which unpredictably swallowed the marketplace whole in a matter of weeks. In its structure, content, and message, the poem mediated long-standing divisions, not just those that had raged between W. E. B. Du Bois and Oswald Garrison Villard, but even the conflict that had consumed the Union and the Confederacy some seventy years before. While Benet's choice of protagonist might indicate another hagiography, John Brown's Body situated the infamous abolitionist in a broader narrative of reunion and patriotic destiny. Just as Du Bois and Villard urged readers of The Crisis to wrestle with John Brown's meaning, Benet snatched Brown from their hands and gave him a symbolic role in a triumphal story of American progress.

Keywords: Vincent Benet; epic poem; John Brown's Body; W. E. B. Du Bois; Oswald Garrison Villard

Chapter.  6190 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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