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The Man That Was Used Up: Poetry, Particularity, and the Politics of Remembering George Washington

The Man That Was Used Up: Poetry, Particularity, and the Politics of Remembering George Washington American Literature, Volume 75, Number 2, June 2003. Copyright © 2003 by Duke University Press. American Literature polities. Nevertheless, over two centuries after his near-liquefaction at the hands of well-meaning surgeons, it would seem that Washington’s disjecta membra remain touchstones of national subjectivity for many who are otherwise unconscious of or repelled by vestiges of monarchal fetishism in their experience of democratic state sovereignty.2 Washington’s false teeth, bits of his hair, and other personal relics have been circulating among the nation’s cultural institutions in honor, recently, of the 200th anniversary of his death and also as part of the continuing effort to assess the visibility and value of his posthumous image in the changing contexts of its manipulation.3 As contributors to this ongoing work of remembrance, writers of fiction, like so many historians, biographers, and exhibit curators, have sought to portray a Washington more personally compelling than the abstract or monumental figure he commonly strikes; a Washington not yet purged of singularity; a Washington of depth, interiority, even edginess. For example, at one point in Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Mason & Dixon, the title characters visit Washington at home, and he invites them to sample Mount Vernon’s newest cash http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Literature Duke University Press

The Man That Was Used Up: Poetry, Particularity, and the Politics of Remembering George Washington

American Literature , Volume 75 (2) – Jun 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0002-9831
eISSN
1527-2117
DOI
10.1215/00029831-75-2-247
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

American Literature, Volume 75, Number 2, June 2003. Copyright © 2003 by Duke University Press. American Literature polities. Nevertheless, over two centuries after his near-liquefaction at the hands of well-meaning surgeons, it would seem that Washington’s disjecta membra remain touchstones of national subjectivity for many who are otherwise unconscious of or repelled by vestiges of monarchal fetishism in their experience of democratic state sovereignty.2 Washington’s false teeth, bits of his hair, and other personal relics have been circulating among the nation’s cultural institutions in honor, recently, of the 200th anniversary of his death and also as part of the continuing effort to assess the visibility and value of his posthumous image in the changing contexts of its manipulation.3 As contributors to this ongoing work of remembrance, writers of fiction, like so many historians, biographers, and exhibit curators, have sought to portray a Washington more personally compelling than the abstract or monumental figure he commonly strikes; a Washington not yet purged of singularity; a Washington of depth, interiority, even edginess. For example, at one point in Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Mason & Dixon, the title characters visit Washington at home, and he invites them to sample Mount Vernon’s newest cash

Journal

American LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jun 1, 2003

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