Angels of Reality: Emersonian Unfoldings in Wright, Stevens, and Ives

Synopsis

In this exciting new book, David Michael Hertz demonstrates how three major artists - Frank Lloyd Wright, Wallace Stevens, and Charles Ives - were influenced by Emerson's nineteenth-century transcendentalism. By focusing on the relative statements of the artists themselves, Hertz shows that Emerson's belief that all things are in flux, including matter and spirit, had direct bearing on the form and content of their works. Hertz writes the book as a meditation on the condition of the artist in America, including biographical and historical information as well as his own interpretations of the three artists' works. In Part 1 he examines the emerging creative mind of the architect, poet, and composer, citing Emerson as the central figure who, through his essays, influenced each of them. By tracing their development as powerful and original thinkers, Hertz examines the processes that enabled them to become unique. In Part 2 he connects Emerson, Wright, Stevens, and Ives through a shared ideology, evident both in their critical statements and in their creative work. He shows how all three artists had specific documented knowledge of Emerson's major works. Their pragmatism, their preoccupation with the primacy of the senses, their predilection for analogy and loose metaphor, their dedication to individuality and self-reliance, and their eclecticism and conception of originality were shared traits and beliefs gleaned from Emerson. Hertz is the first writer to bring these four major American figures together in a single work. He makes it clear that Emersonianism reaches far into twentieth-century American culture and into the realms of art and music as well as literature. This book willinterest not only Emerson, Wright, Stevens, and Ives scholars but other individuals involved in the arts, the humanities, and interdisciplinary studies as well.