David Herd
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A short essay on enthusia
in Enthusiast!

This introduction presents an overview of key concepts covered in this book. The book is neither a theory nor a history of enthusiasm. What it is, rather, is an exploration of a critical idea: an account of how enthusiasm, as developed in the histories of philosophy and religion, entered and was altered by American writing. To put it another way, what the book offers is a portrait of the writer as an enthusiast, where the portrait, as will become clear, carries more than a hint of polemic. To sketch in the implications of the critical idea, the history of American literature is barely thinkable without its enthusiasts. There are numerous other writers it would have been appropriate to discuss here, numerous other writers who, for varying reasons, might have been named enthusiasts. A linking feature among the writers is the attention they gave to the act of composition.

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Essays on Modern American Literature


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