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By Dudley M. Marchi

This e-book complements our figuring out of France and the us via targeting their intercultural relatives. Baudelaire and Emerson have on the middle in their considering the very proposal of the way to reconcile person and collective adventure, a topic that's pervasive in French-American relatives. A historic viewpoint to modern concerns concerning the French-American connection is helping us to come back to phrases with a few of the urgent difficulties presently dealing with France and the us and to view a few key literary texts in a brand new mild.

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Extra info for Baudelaire, Emerson, and the French-American Connection: Contrary Affinities (Currents in Comparative Romance Languages and Literatures)

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He saw his role as an American scholar as described here: to be a beacon of enlightened thought and words for others to adopt and implement into sound social policies. His theory of transcendentalism pushes toward the direct revelation of truth through intuition. In this respect, he is guilty of bonding with an elite class of thinkers who try to guide the people’s access to truth and a right-minded society. Regardless, as A. Robert Caponigri has demonstrated, Emerson’s self-reliance is not a solipsistic egotism; Emerson is self-reliant and humbly recognizes the universal truths that speak in him, informed by years of reading, thinking, travel, conversation, and community service; he seeks to be the bearer of these truths and not considered the source.

He even supported John Brown’s extremism for a time and provided funds to help Thoreau smuggle escaped slaves through the Underground Railroad. qxd 6/6/2011 4:12 PM Page 24 24 contrary affinities believed, however, that coercive legislation was not the way to effect positive social change but that informed individualism was the means to reform, as each individual discovers how to serve a truly just and democratic society to the best of his or her ability. Emerson favored the ballot box, always voted, and believed in the ability of the power of the masses to change society for the better.

However, such a doctrine of individuation is exactly what Herbert Marcuse described as “affirmative culture,” a formula whereby the personal becomes vitally political: By affirmative culture is meant that culture of the bourgeois epoch which led in the course of its development to the segregation from civilization of the mental and spiritual world as an independent realm of value that is also considered superior to civilization. Its decisive characteristic is the assertion of a universally obligatory, eternally better and more valuable world that must be unconditionally affirmed: a world essentially different from the factual world of the daily struggle for existence, yet realizable by every individual for himself “from within,” without any transformation of the state of fact.

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