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Gothic Romance

Covenant and republic: historical romance and the politics by Philip Gould

By Philip Gould

Covenant and Republic investigates the cultural politics of historic reminiscence within the early American republic, in particular the historic literature of Puritanism. via situating old writing approximately Puritanism within the context of the cultural forces of Republicanism and liberalism, this examine reconsiders the emergence of the old romance within the 1820s, sooner than the paintings of Nathaniel Hawthorne. This publication not just aids the Americanist restoration of this literary interval, but in addition brings jointly literary experiences of historic fiction and old scholarship of early Republican political tradition; in doing so, it deals a persuasive new account of simply what's at stake while one reads literature of and concerning the earlier.

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This is the liberal credo. "34 The religious idealism, which Ramsay and others invested in colonial New England, refurbishes traditionally Whiggish republican values at the very least skittish of commercial sophistication and material gain. " 36 As the borders between religion and politics significantly blur (an ironic maneuver, given the tendency at other moments to rationalize Puritan religious intolerance by disentangling it from political norms), the very nature of "liberty" itself becomes problematic.

One can thus begin to see how a New England elite grappled with the embarrassment of Puritan "bigotry," only to subsume it within the larger context of an ancestral stability, which metaphorically eased their own anxieties in a changing world. At its core lay an apologia of hierarchy in the name of national health (or "constitution" in its antiquated 32 COVENANT AND REPUBLIC sense). 40 "Care was . . "41 All of these legal and legislative measures were part of a larger effort to maintain a communitarian, agrarian order of middling, fee-simple propertyholders, who were shepherded firmly (yet benevolently) by a patriarchal order of ministers and magistrates vigilantly fastened upon the public good.

The medium of exemplary history, in other words, paradoxically compresses and distends historical time. 31 But what did this word "republican" actually mean? Like the Constitution makers of 1787-8, early national history-writers negotiated both ethical and institutional meanings of a republic; the former context, however, bore most significantly on the representation of Puritan history. One way to demonstrate this is to compare the period's respective narratives of the foundings of New England and Virginia.

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