The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century, Volume 1

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1983 - History - 528 pages
0 Reviews

The late Perry Miller once stated, "I have been compelled to insist that the mind of man is the basic factor in human history," and his study of the mind in America has shaped the thought of three decades of scholars.

The fifteen essays here collected--several of them previously unpublished--address themselves to facets of the American consciousness and to their expression in literature from the time of the Cambridge Agreement to the Nobel Prize acceptance speeches of Hemingway and Faulkner. A companion volume to Errand into the Wilderness, its general theme is one adumbrated in Mr. Miller's two-volume masterpiece, The New England Mind--the thrust of civilization into the vast, empty continent and its effect upon Americans' concept of themselves as "nature's nation."

The essays first concentrate on Puritan covenant theology and its gradual adaptation to changing conditions in America: the decline in zeal for a "Bible commonwealth," the growth of trade and industy, and the necessity for coexisting with large masses of unchurched people. As the book progresses, the emphasis shifts from religion to the philosophy of nature to the development of an original literature, although Mr. Miller is usually analyzing simultaneously all three aspects of the American quest for self-identity. In the final essays, he shows how the forces that molded the self-conscious articulateness of the early New Englanders still operate in the work of contemporary American writers.

The introduction to this collection is by Kenneth Murdock, Francis Lee Higginson Professor of English Literature, Emeritus, Harvard University, who, with Perry Miller and Samuel Eliot Morison, accomplished what has been called "one of the great historical re-evaluations of this generation."

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

The Augustinian Strain of Piety
3
CHAPTER it The Practice of Piety
35
The Intellectual Character
64
CHAPTER 1v The Intellectual Heritage
89
The Instrument of Reason
111
Knowledge
154
CHAPTER Wt The Uses of Reason
181
Nature
207
Rhetoric
300
The Plain Style
331
CHAPTER xn1 The Covenant of Grace
365
The Social Covenant
398
The Church Covenant
432
Gods Controversy with New England
463
Appendix A The Literature of Ramus Logic in Europe
493
Appendix B The Federal School of Theology
502

The Nature of Man
239
The Means of Conversion
280

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1983)

Born and educated in Chicago, Perry Miller received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1931. From that year until his death, he taught at Harvard University. Working with such source materials as diaries and letters, he studed the literature and culture of New England in the colonial and early national eras. His books, and especially his most popular work, The New England Mind (1939--53), radically altered the old stereotypical view of Puritan life as dreary and uninvolved with worldly matters and did much to create renewed interest in the Puritanism of early New England. As Granville Hicks wrote, "He respected the Puritans as thinkers, and he regarded them more highly than he did their successors who moderated their teachings" (Saturday Review). A professor of American literature, Miller wrote critical essays and compiled anthologies of early American poetry and prose. One work, The Life of the Mind in America, published posthumously in 1965, won the 1966 Pulitzer Prize in history. All of Miller's works were informed by a keen sense of history and reminded students of American civilization of how much the Puritans and the Transcendentalists shaped the national culture.

Bibliographic information