The American Aeneas: Classical Origins of the American Self
“John Shields's book is a provocative challenge to the venerable Adamic myth so exhaustively deployed in examinations of early American literature and in American studies. Moreover, The American Aeneas builds wonderfully on Shields's considerable work on Phillis Wheatley. “?—American Literature??
“The American Aeneas should be of interest to classicists and American studies scholars alike.” ?—The New England Quarterly??
John Shields exposes a significant cultural blindness within American consciousness. Noting the biblical character Adam as an archetype who has long dominated ideas of what it means to be American, Shields argues that an equally important component of our nation's cultural identity—a secular one deriving from the classical tradition—has been seriously neglected.??Shields shows how Adam and Aeneas—Vergil's hero of the Aeneid— in crossing over to American from Europe, dynamically intermingled in the thought of the earliest American writers. Shields argues that uncovering and acknowledging the classical roots of our culture can allay the American fear of “pastlessness” that the long-standing emphasis on the Adamic myth has generated.
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