By Ellery Sedgwick
How the main revered literary periodical of its time balanced "high" tradition with reasonable liberalism
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Additional resources for The Atlantic monthly, 1857-1909: Yankee humanism at high tide and ebb
The major political issues of the period involved the conflict in a rapidly industrializing society between labor and capital. The magazine, sustaining its role as a forum for intellectual debate, published advocates and critics of both sides. Most Atlantic writers, however, represented a cultural elite whose influence and values were threatened equally by a capitalist plutocracy (America's version of Arnold's barbarian aristocrats) and by a largely uneducated, increasingly foreign-born labor force.
This book is published with the support and cooperation of the University of Massachusetts at Boston. Portions of this book have been previously published in journals as follows: "The Early Years of the Atlantic Monthly," American Transcendental Quarterly (Dec. 1985), 3-30; "Walter Hines Page at the Atlantic Monthly," Harvard Library Bulletin, Fall 1987, 427-49; ''Henry James and the Atlantic Monthly," Studies in Bibliography, 1992, 311-32. Page v To my wife, Robin, with gratitude Page vii Contents List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction: Overview, 1857-1909 1 1 The Founding of the Atlantic (1857) Boston's High Tide 21 2 James Russell Lowell (1857-1861) Yankee Humanist 45 3 James T.
But there was clearly a decline from a progressive liberal humanism to a retrospective, idealistic genteel tradition. The ideals of the recent past congealed into prescriptive dogma, its living authors into canonical figures, and its individualism into conformist concern for social cohesion. There was some refusal to acknowledge disturbing social realities, some defensive reaction to change, some narrowing of sympathies, and considerable loss of the old expansive optimism about the potential of the American majority and the leadership role of the cultural elite.