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Download American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work, by Susan Cheever Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (705 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Susan Cheever Narrator: Kate Reading Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Even the most devoted readers of nineteenth-century American literature often assume that the men and women behind the masterpieces were as dull and staid as the era’s static daguerreotypes. Susan Cheever’s latest work, however, brings new life to the well-known literary personages who produced such cherished works as The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, Walden, and Little Women. Rendering in full color the tumultuous, often scandalous lives of these volatile and vulnerable geniuses, Cheever’s dynamic narrative reminds us that, while these literary heroes now seem secure of their spots in the canon, they were once considered avant-garde, bohemian types, at odds with the establishment. 

Far from typically Victorian, this group of intellectuals, like their British Bloomsbury counterparts to whom the title refers, not only questioned established literary forms, but also resisted old moral and social strictures. Thoreau, of course, famously retreated to a plot of land on Walden Pond to escape capitalism, pick berries, and ponder nature. More shocking was the group’s ambivalence toward the institution of marriage. Inclined to bend the rules of its bonds, many of its members spent time at the notorious commune, Brook Farm, and because liberal theories could not entirely guarantee against jealousy, the tension of real or imagined infidelities was always near the surface.
Susan Cheever reacquaints us with the sexy, subversive side of Concord’s nineteenth-century intellectuals, restoring in three dimensions the literary personalities whose work is at the heart of our national history and cultural identity.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Beguiling…lively and insightful introduction to the personalities and achievements of the men and women who were seminal figures in America’s literary renaissance…[Cheever] keenly analyzes the positive and negative ways they influenced one another’s ideas and beliefs and the literature that came out of “this sudden outbreak of genius.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Emotionally warm and critically engaged, Cheever’s history successfully evokes the incubation of Concord’s literary glory.”

    Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Diane | 2/18/2014

    " I learned about the synchronous details of life in this time, this genius cluster, and in literary thinking. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Sady | 2/11/2014

    " It's a love letter to the land where I grew up, which is a nice thing, and it's also all gossipy about the private lives of these people with really powerful principles who were trying to live well in the world; they called their endeavor "the newness". Margaret Fuller xoxo. Really bad depiction of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody - which is a shame, she was amazing and was the first to use the term "transcendentalist" to describe her spirituality. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Gigi | 2/4/2014

    " I enjoyed the information presented. It gave a lot of great insight into this group of amazing authors and how their lives were so interconnected. However, the format of the book did not appeal to me at all. It continually jumps around chronologically without smooth transitions and occassionally the author will interject her own personal history and it is very awkward. Though the topic was fascinating the actually writing often was not clearly presented. So the concept of the book is probably worth 4 or 5 stars but the writing style of the book would be about a two. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jamilah | 1/23/2014

    " I'm really enjoying this book about a group of pre-Civil-War era writers living in the same neighborhood in Concord MA. Some reviews mention historical inaccuracies in Cheever's writing. She presents the material as non-fiction, with a bit of conjecture. I loved the books of Louisa May Alcott, so I'm especially enjoying reading about her family and the experiences of her childhood. "

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About the Author
Author Susan Cheever

Susan Cheever was born in New York City and graduated from Brown University. A Guggenheim Fellow and a director of the board of the Yaddo Corporation, she currently teaches in the MFA programs at Bennington College and the New School. She lives in New York City.