5995 AL 72:1 / sheet 186 of 246 182 American Literature away from England. As a consequence, experience enabled Americans to see themselves as even more English than the English, rather than as a way for them to distinguish themselves from their European counterparts. The groundbreaking claims of Eganâs work are weakened, in part, by the limits he imposes on their reach. While he provides wonderful readings of a few authors, at times I found myself wondering just how far these ideas penetrated the entire culture. I would have liked more thorough discussions of a wider body of written material to see just how deeply the evolving rhetoric of experience permeated New England. This is a small complaint for a highly imaginative work. Others, no doubt, will be able to pick up where Egan has left oï¬. And scholars should. Eganâs book provides a rich framework for rethinking the role of experience and ideology in early American culture; those interested in this period and these issues should pay attention. Paul Gutjahr, Indiana University Imagined Empires: Incas, Aztecs, and the New World of American Literature, 1771â 1876. By Eric Wertheimer. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge Univ. Press. 1999. xii, 243 pp.
American Literature – Duke University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2000