The essays selected for this volume represent the earliest phase of the American critic Orestes Brownson's literary career. They span over a decade of work, from the early philosophical and theological reflections of the late 1820s, through the Transcendentalist phase of the 1830s, and into the critical and highly creative output of the early 1840s. While upon his conversion to Catholicism in 1844 Brownson rejected many of the philosophical and theological premises put forth here, they continue to be of interest to the serious student. They are the product of an exceptionally active, inquisitive, and naturally gifted literary mind, and they touch upon a wide range of subjects in philosophy, politics, religion, and culture. As such, they are an iconic representation of the larger nineteenth-century literary movement known as the American Renaissance—despite the fact that Brownson is one of that movement’s most neglected figures. This second volume of a projected five-volume series includes an enlightening introduction by series editor Gregory Butler.
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