REVIEWS John Neal and Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture. Edited by Edward Watts and David J. Carlson. (Lanham, MD: Bucknell University Press, 2012. Pp. 319. Hardcover, $84.99.) Reviewed by Sari Altschuler The John Neal novel that sits in my office is representatively disorienting. This edition of Rachel Dyer (1828), proclaimed a ``literary classic'' by its 1990s publishers, was nonetheless shelved as young adult fiction by the library that recently deacquisitioned it. Declared an antecedent to The Scarlet Letter (though largely superficially), the volume reveals the anxieties about its seriousness, originality, historical significance, and, most confusingly, genre that have long plagued Neal's critical legacy. Edward Watts and David Carlson's collection, John Neal and Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture, does much to counter these concerns and reestablish Neal's role as a central literary figure from the middle fifty years of the nineteenth century. By treating Neal as a serious object of study worthy of an essay collection and approaching an array of Neal's work from a wide variety of historical, aesthetic, and political angles, Watts and Carlson bring necessary attention to a lamentably marginalized figure. The volume is dynamic, expansive, and heartening; it hopefully heralds the further reconsideration of a
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Apr 17, 2013
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