By Jesper Gulddal (auth.)
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Extra resources for Anti-Americanism in European Literature
A case in point is the account of Moorfeld’s experiences on his first Sunday in New York. This account recycles Trollope’s theme of banned entertainments while giving it a somewhat surreal twist. Having already been asked by his host to refrain from playing the violin, the protagonist gradually realizes that on Sundays even going for a walk is considered a violation of the third commandment. The black servant Jack—who in a sense is Moorfeld’s ally, although the narrator bombards him with racist clichés— informs the horrified German that Sunday boredom in New York is so intense that the city’s young men have developed a special pastime, which consists in setting alight random houses and then entertaining themselves by extinguishing the fires.
Thence the splitting up into so many sects, which reach the very acme of absurdity; many of which have a form of worship consisting in convulsive movements, and sometimes in the most sensuous extravagances. [ . . ] The Church is no independent existence with a substantial spiritual being and an external arrangement; rather the affairs of religion are regulated by the good pleasure of the members of the community. 53 A religious man himself, Hegel does not criticize the Americans for believing in God, but for not believing in God in the right way, namely within invention of anti-americanism / 35 the framework of an established church that keeps their vivid imaginations in check.
And, owing to this absence of history and cultural traditions, the place is nothing but raw, uncultivated nature. According to Moore, it is precisely history, or rather the cultural capital it accumulates, that imbues a landscape with spirit and makes it poetically fertile. Ideologically, we are far removed from any Rousseau-like celebration of the simple, authentic life in the wilderness. For Moore, pure nature is a corrupting force that inhibits the development of culture: All that creation’s varying mass assumes Of grand or lovely, here aspires and blooms; Bold rise the mountains, rich the gardens glow, Bright lakes expand, and conquering rivers flow; Mind, mind alone, without whose quickening ray, The world’s a wilderness and man but clay, Mind, mind alone, in barren, still repose, Nor blooms, nor rises, nor expands, nor flows!
Anti-Americanism in European Literature by Jesper Gulddal (auth.)