The Golden Book of Springfield

By Cochran, David | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Autumn 2001 | Go to article overview

The Golden Book of Springfield


Cochran, David, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society


The Golden Book of Springfield. By Vachel Lindsay. Introduction by Ron Sakolsky. (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Press, 1999. Cxvii + 329 pp., illustra- tions. Paper, $22.00)

In the wake of the success of Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1887), Americans were inundated with literary utopias from points of view as diverse as the American people themselves. Novels describing socialist, populist, business, Christian, feminist and an array of other utopias spoke to a people making the uneasy transition from a rural, small-producer capitalist economy to an urban, big business, consumer economy. Such works reflected the social and personal tensions of this period of transformation, but also an underlying optimism regarding Americans' ability to adapt to the challenges at hand and fashion a more humane future. Such optimism, which fueled the Progressive movement of the early twentieth century, had largely spent itself by the end of World War I, and in the wake of the mass destruction and social chaos arising from the war and the Russian revolution, the cycle of utopian literature largely came to an end.

Vachel Lindsay's The Golden Book of Springfield (1921) stands as one of the final works in this wave of utopian writings. Recently reissued, with a lengthy introduction by Ron Sakolsky, it is an odd and idiosyncratic book, reflecting the eccentricities of its author. One of the most significant American poets of the early twentieth century, Lindsay wrote free verse that captured the American vernacular as reflected not only in the daily spoken language, but also the rhythms of the era's popular culture, notably jazz and motion pictures. Moreover, Lindsay was fascinated with many of the intellectual strains of his time, including, at various times, socialism, feminism, Christian mysticism, and prohibition. In the best tradition of Whitmanesque democratic poetry, Lindsay contradicted himself because he contained multitudes. Thus he captures the heteroglossia of a time when the left wing of Progressivism merged with the socialist, social gospel, and feminist movements, and the residual influence of nineteenth-century political movements - from Lincoln's republicanism, transcendentalism, and abolitionism to populism and Henry George's single-tax plan - still carried meaning in American political discourse.

In a fine introduction, Sakolsky places Lindsay in this dynamic context and shows how the poet drew on a wide range of influences to fashion an eclectic radicalism. As Sakolsky comments, "Lindsay was not an ideological purist. Instead he attempted to creatively cobble together a variety of strains of thought ... In one sense Lindsay's intellectual approach can be seen as lacking in rigor, but in a more favorable light it can be seen as the thinking of a person more interested in facilitating unity than in sectarian bickering." (p. xix) Running through Lindsay's utopian thought are not only the intellectual currents mentioned above, but also anarchism, Confucianism, slave culture, and the influence of such people as Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, John Ruskin, Johnny Appleseed, Daniel Boone, Jacob Coxey and Woodrow Wilson. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Golden Book of Springfield
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.