The American Image of the Old World

The American Image of the Old World

The American Image of the Old World

The American Image of the Old World

Excerpt

This book is a narrative and critical history of the American image of Europe as it has shaped and expressed national politics and culture. It is the story of the rise, development, and decline of a powerful tradition of looking across the Atlantic at an alien "Old World" whose characteristics (whether condemned or admired) have usually been understood to be the very opposite of the "New World." Many Americans have comfortably rested in this vision of their relation to Europe while the ground has shifted under their feet and the horizons have been transformed. Ambivalence and ambiguity, as the most perceptive American writers have always told us, have mingled with myth and legend to complicate the relationship. It has been as hard for the American to see Europe realistically as it has been for him to see clearly his own country, because he has almost always understood himself only in relation to Europe.

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