Return Of The Nervous Angels Analysis

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“Emerson and Kerouac: Grievous Angels of Hope and Loss”

Philosophy Americana: Making Philosophy at Home in American Culture
Douglas R. Anderson
Fordham University Press, New York 2006

The chapter talks about three individuals whose works had a great influence on American culture: Emerson, Kerouac and Gram Parson. The chapter uses Parson`s song “Return of the Grievous Angel” in order to bring into discussion the roles hope and loss play in the writing of Emerson and Kerouac. Together with folk-poet Thomas S. Brown, Gram Parson wrote a song named “Return of the Grievous Angel”, which was at one level a cross-country trucking story and, at another level, it was Elvis` transition from country to Las Vegas, as Anderson observes.
Cecil Ingram
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His vision of what transcends the ordinary experience is an important theme in American philosophical and literary traditions; two are the figures who paid great attention to the quest for transcendence: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Jack Kerouac. For Anderson, these two great figure are the prototypical American “grievous angels”. In what sense are Emerson and Kerouac grievous angels? First, the author explains that “they call us out and have us seek our own self-transcendence”, then “it fits Kerouac best in considering its import of “bringing trouble” or being “sorrowful”. Emerson’s character is perhaps better captured by the sense of being “excessively strong”. There are many similarities, and still, there are differences between the two, but, as the Anderson agrees that we, like Parson, “keep company with both of them”. They were both active in New England Transcendentalism and the Beat Generation; they were literary innovators and exhibited a spirit of individualism, being charismatic and spontaneous. But they were actually very different. In 1844, Emerson claimed that America was a country of hope, a growing nation, country of the Future. In Kerouac’s post–World War II America, things were different. The main ideas of the Beat Generation, the longing for belief and meaning in life, are reflected in On the Road. The novel gave voice to a rising, dissatisfied fringe of the young generation of the late forties and early fifties. It was after the Great Depression and World War II and more than a decade before the Civil Rights movement and the turmoil of the '60s. He also wrote the Duluoz legend, filled with a sense of
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