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The American Mind The E. T. Earl Lectures   By: (1860-1954)

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Bliss Perry's "The American Mind" is a thought-provoking collection of lectures that delves deep into the intricacies of American intellectual life. Through his perceptive analysis and captivating prose, Perry succeeds in providing the reader with a comprehensive understanding of American thought from the 18th to the 20th century. Although the book lacks a cohesive structure, its individual chapters are highly insightful and stand-alone pieces of intellectual exploration.

One of the book's greatest strengths lies in Perry's ability to navigate the complexities of American history and philosophy. He deftly highlights the influences of European philosophers such as Locke and Kant on American thinkers, providing valuable context for understanding the uniqueness of American intellectual development. Perry explores topics ranging from transcendentalism and religious skepticism to the pragmatism of William James, demonstrating the intricate web of ideas that shaped the American mind.

Perry's analysis is skillfully balanced, presenting both the strengths and weaknesses of American intellectual thought. He emphasizes the intellectual vibrancy and optimism that emerged during the Age of Enlightenment, tracing the birth of American exceptionalism. However, he also acknowledges the darker aspects of the American mind, particularly the persistence of racial and religious prejudices that have plagued the nation throughout its history. This nuanced perspective adds depth to his exploration and avoids a one-sided portrayal of American intellectual life.

The richness of Perry's writing style is another highlight of this book. His prose is elegant, eloquent, and highly evocative, captivating the reader with its depth and clarity. He brings historical figures to life, painting vivid pictures of both their personal lives and the broader intellectual and cultural contexts in which they operated. The result is a book that engages both the mind and the imagination, making it a pleasure to read.

However, it should be noted that the book's lack of a clear overarching structure may be a drawback for some readers. The chapters function as standalone essays, which can at times make it difficult to discern a coherent flow of ideas throughout the book. Additionally, Perry's analysis is primarily focused on white, male thinkers, largely neglecting the contributions of women and people of color to American intellectual thought. A more inclusive approach would have provided a more comprehensive understanding of the American mind.

In conclusion, "The American Mind" is a captivating exploration of the intellectual history of the United States. Perry's incisive analysis, elegant prose, and balanced perspective make for a compelling read. While the book's lack of connectivity and limited inclusivity are notable drawbacks, they do not diminish the overall value of Perry's insights. Anyone interested in the evolution of American intellectual thought will find this book a worthwhile addition to their reading list.

First Page:

THE AMERICAN MIND

The E. T. Earl Lectures

1912

By the Same Author

The American Mind Park Street Papers John Greenleaf Whittier: A Memoir Walt Whitman The Amateur Spirit A Study of Prose Fiction The Powers at Play The Plated City Salem Kittredge and Other Stories The Broughton House

The American Mind

By Bliss Perry

[Illustration: The Riverside Press]

Boston and New York

Houghton Mifflin Company

1912

COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY BLISS PERRY

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Published October 1912

TO

WALTER MORRIS HART

Preface

The material for this book was delivered as the E. T. Earl Lectures for 1912 at the Pacific Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California, and I wish to take this opportunity to express to the President and Faculty of that institution my appreciation of their generous hospitality.

The lectures were also given at the Lowell Institute, Boston, the Brooklyn Institute, and elsewhere, under the title "American Traits in American Literature." In revising them for publication a briefer title has seemed desirable, and I have therefore availed myself of Jefferson's phrase "The American Mind," as suggesting, more accurately perhaps than the original title, the real theme of discussion.

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