Transcendental wordplay : America's romantic punsters and the search for the language of nature /

"Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, America was captivated by a muddled notion of “etymology.” New England Transcendentalism was only one outcropping of a nationwide movement in which schoolmasters across small-town America taught students the roots of words in ways that drama...

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Main Author: West, Michael, 1937- (Author)
Format: Book
Published:Athens : Ohio University Press, ©2000.
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Table of Contents:
  • Illustrations
  • Preface: Punsters, Philosophers, Philologues, Pedagogues, and Other Grammatis Personae
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abbreviated References
  • 1.. Spellers, Punsters, and Spread-Eagle Linguistics
  • From Every Mountainside Let Fredish Ring
  • Webster's Speller Casts a Spell--and Breeds Rebellion
  • Lexicographers, Journalists, and the Roots of Our Jocular Slang
  • Gentlemen Punsters Off on a Spree
  • Professional Jesters and the Wordplay of "Jest Plain Folks"
  • Further Etiology of America's Punning Epidemic
  • 2.. Enlightened Europeans, Romantic Americans: Origins of Our Transcendental Quest for the Language of Nature
  • Dreaming Philosophical Dreams about a Language of Nature
  • How Enlightened French Savants Enlighten Thoreau's Wordplay
  • Volatile Words: The Ironic Materialism of Tooke's Diverting Etymologies
  • Scottish Commonsense Philosophy of Language Charms American Colleges
  • The Birth of Comedy from the Spirit of Philology--Romantic Irony Germinates in Germany
  • Moonshine in Vermont: Coleridge as America's First Punning Transcendental Sage
  • 3.. Parsing the Language of Nature
  • Murray's Grammar and the Mania for Etymological Parsing
  • The Lurking Transcendentalism of William Cardell's "Philosophic Parsing"
  • Sherman's Attack on Cardell: Grammar Enters Politics--and Vice Versa
  • Unequivocal Eminence Achieved!!! The Language of Nature Mechanized!!!
  • Brown's English Syntax Institution and the Peripatetic Tradition, 1836-1856
  • 4.. Antebellum America Goes Gaga over Grammar
  • The Heirs of Cardell, Legal and Illegal
  • Beautiful Dreamers: Philosophical Grammarians and Their Homespun Hermeneutics
  • Thoreau and the Educational Establishment
  • Verbal Fever Rages on the Ohio--and Elsewhere
  • 5.. Copyrighting Etymological Ecstasy
  • Pop Philology: The Vogue of American Etymological Manuals
  • Native Roots--Walt Whitman and America's Anglo-Saxon Zealots
  • The Scholar's Companion (1836) Becomes the Businessman's Friend
  • Treasuries of Words: From Roget to John Williams of Lancaster, Ohio
  • Picking Flowers from Florilegia--Thoreau and the Etymological Entertainers
  • Three Ramblers among Words--Whitman, Thoreau, and William Swinton
  • 6.. Thoreau and the Life of Words
  • Sporting with Etymological Metaphysics on a Sandbank
  • Walden's Dirty Language and Walter Whiter's Geocentric Etymology
  • Thoreau's Hydraulic Psychology of Humor
  • Elizabethans, Indians, and Animated Nature-Writing
  • Making Prose Spring from the Earth
  • Getting the Point of Thoreau's Puns
  • 7.. The Ironic Drift in Antebellum Language Philosophy
  • Alexander Bryan Johnson: Utica's Philosophical Emperor of Empiricism
  • Ironing Out Utica's Antinomies with Irony
  • Rational Theology and Its Discontents
  • From Paradigm to Paradox: Horace Bushnell Shakes Up American Protestantism
  • 8.. Go Slow--Man Thinking
  • Emerson Whips Words Until the Silence Reverberates
  • Exploding the Correspondence Theory of Nature (1836)
  • The Playthings in the Playhouse of the Children
  • The Inarticulacy of Old Man Eloquent
  • Man Thinking about American Scholars
  • 9.. Wordplay, Romantic Irony, and the Forms of Antebellum Fiction
  • Irving's Bawdy Double Entendres
  • Leatherstocking and the Languages of Nature
  • The Gothic Grotesquerie of Poe's Grinning Skull
  • The Spell of a Scarlet Letter
  • The Whale's Tale and Other Literary Flukes
  • 10.. Savoring the Wiles of Words
  • Dickinson's Love Affair with Dictionaries
  • A Punning Humorist Grows Up in Amherst
  • The Paradoxical Power of Webster's Primal Words
  • Little Emily's Romantic Ironies
  • 11.. Whitman's Experiments with Language
  • The Allure of Native American Names
  • Body Language and the Adamic Mystique of Voice
  • The Mock Epic of the Elastic Self
  • Ebbing Afflatus--and Unspeakable Ironies
  • 12.. Thoreau and the Sounds of Silence
  • Harvard Harkens to the Music of a Sphere
  • A Mediocre Lecturer Flirts with Acoustic Mysticism
  • Floating from Concord to the Heart of Silence
  • Unraveling the Rhetoric of Walden's "Reading"
  • The Social Reverberations of Walden's "Sounds"
  • 13.. Walden's Antic Dialectic between Self and Society
  • Fusing Polarities with Coleridgean Imagination
  • The Duplicity of Solitude
  • Clowning for Visitors
  • Bean-Field or Battlefield?
  • A World Reintegrated in Transcendental Sport
  • 14.. Scatology and Eschatology: The Heroic Dimensions of Thoreau's Wordplay
  • Thoreau's Excremental Cosmology
  • Men, Women, and the Pollution of Sympathy
  • Ascetic Heroism against Dirt, Disease, and Death
  • Heroic Language Games: Romantic Irony, Art, and the Play of Life
  • Concluding Unscientific Postscript
  • Notes
  • Index

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