By Paul Hurh
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Additional resources for American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville
From Edwards to Poe to Melville—three writers who felt a similar pull to analyze the methods of mind through forms of feeling—this book charts the development of the “powers of blackness” in American litera- 30 INTRODUCTION ture against the development and abstraction of method as the formal mode of philosophy. The arc of my study follows the history of an idea—that terror is the special feeling of objective truth—as it emerges in Edwards’s logic-based hellfire, is schematized in Poe’s materialist aesthetics of formal horror, and finally coalesces in the dread of Melville’s portrait of inhuman subjectivity.
Noyes had, according to Davenport, assuaged the fears of a woman who had deep convictions of her own sinfulness, had “deadened” the passions of awakened persons with his preaching, and had suggested that a view of one’s own sinfulness is easily accomplished (3). Davenport’s accusations, along with Noyes’s responses, were recorded and the informal gathering prepared to adjourn. What happened next might best be described as prayer-crashing. According to witnesses, Davenport began praying aloud: “[W]ithout any Notice given, while divers in the Room were talking loud, and Â�others smoking and some with their Hatts on, he began a Prayer, but there being so much Noise in the Room he was hardly heard at first, many kept on talking, others cryed out stop him, the Rev.
Perry Miller, who in the middle of the twentieth century probably did the most to secure Edwards in the literary canon, initially saw Edwards as laced through and through with terror, writing: “[T]he terror he imparted was the terror of modern man, the terror of insecurity” (Jonathan Edwards 147). In the early 1980s, Norman Fiering tempered the claim, suggesting that Edwards’s obsession with terror is, on the surface at least, incompatible with the personality that emerges from his less fiery work: “How could a man as deeply sensitive and tender as he appears to have been, .
American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville by Paul Hurh