American Renaissance

1835-1855–’the movement on behalf of which Thoreau crowed “like canticleer i nthe morning” at the discorey of his radical independence; in which Whitman exulted at the dissolution of all boundaries–temporal, sexual, and linguistic; and whose chief spokesman, Emerson chided his countrymen for being slow to break the linked conventions they confused with the self. “The . . . terror,” Emerson wrote in “Self Reliance” (1840), “That scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loth to disapoint them’” Delbanco, intro to Moby Dick.
Moby Dick

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