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American Hieroglyphics: The Symbol of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics in the American Renaissance by John T. Irwin (2016-08-23)

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    John T. Irwin(Author)

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  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • John T. Irwin(Author)
  • Johns Hopkins University Press (1740)
  • Unknown
  • 9
  • Other books

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Review Text

  • By Guest on January 25, 2004

    This work is an excellent study of the image of Egyptian hieroglphics, the aura and mystery attached to them, and the effect which the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone by the Frenchman Champollion had on major American authors of the 19th century. The author, John T. Irwin, divides the work into Three Major Parts: (1) Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman; (2) Poe; (3) Hawthorne and Melville. Under Part 1, Irwin has the sub-sections: Champollion and the Historical Background; Emerson's Hieroglyphical Emblems / Thoreau: The Single, Basic Form -- Patenting a Leaf/ Whitman: Hieroglyphic Bibles and Phallic Songs. Under Part 2, Irwin has the subsections: The Hieroglyphics and the Quest for Origins: The Myth of Hieroglyphic Doubling/ Ends and Origins: The Voyage to the Polar Abyss and the Journey to the Source of the Nile; The Survival of the Manuscript/ Certainty and Credibility -- Self-Evidence and Self-Reference; Nietzsche and Tragedy -- Whitman and Opera; The Open Road/ Writing Self -- Written Self; The Dark Double; The Overwhelming of the Vessel/ Cannibalism and Sacrifice; Metaphors of the Body -- Transfiguration, Transubstantiation, Resurrection, and Ascension/ Narcissus and the Illusion of Depth/ Self- Recognition; Deciphering a Mnemic Inscription; Historical Amnesia and Personal Anamnesis/ Repetition; Symbolic Death and Rebirth; the Infinite and the Indefinite; The Mechanism of Foreshadowing/ The Unfinished Narrative; The Cavern Inscription on Tsalal; Survival in an Image/ The White Shadow; Imagining the Indefinite; Reading the Spirit from the Letter; The Finality of Revenge; The Alogical Status of the Self/ The Return to Oneness; Breaking the Crypt; The Limits of Interpretation; The Ultimate Certainty. In Part 3, Irwin has the sub-sections: Hawthorne: The Ambiguity of the Hieroglyphics; The Unstable Self and Its Roles; Mirror Image and Phonetic Veil; The Feminine Role of the Artist; Veil and Phallus; The Book as Partial Object/Melville: The Indeterminate Ground; A Conjunction of Fountain and Vortex; The Myth of Isis and Osiris; Master Oppositions; The Doubleness of the Self and the Illusion of Consistent Character; Dionysus and Apollo; Mask and Phallus; and The Chain of Partial Objects. As Irwin says in his Preface: "...each of these books deals with the notion of the writer's corpus as an inscribed shadow self, a hieroglyphic double. The present book begins by examining the impact of the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphics on nine- teenth century American literature, and then, ranging back and forth over literary history, practical criticism of individual works, and speculative criticism, it relates the image of hieroglyphics to the larger reciprocal questions of the origin and limits of symbolization and the symbolization of origins and ends." This is an amazing tour-de-force for any lover of 19th century American literature, its major Titan figures, symbolism, and Egyptian influences on American psyches. -- Robert Kilgore.


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