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Orestes Brownson


Orestes A. Brownson: A Bibliography, 1826-1876  edited by Patrick W Carey (Marquette Studies in Theology 10: Marquette University Press) Bibliography of Orestes A. Brownson's Writings contains a comprehensive and annotated list of the published works of Orestes A. Brownson (1803-76) from 1826 until his death in 1876. The bibliography offers for the first time a complete list of over 1500 of his essays, pamphlets and books.

A complete bibliography of Orestes A. Brownson's (1803-76) works is long overdue. Brownson's writings are important and creative contributions to the history of American intellectual life, and are reflective of some major currents in American and European thought during the early and mid-nineteenth century. Yet, there is no comprehensive bibliography of his contributions. This bibliography provides the first useful guide to his numerous writings and to the many central intellectual issues that he addressed.

Brownson was one of the more prolific, hard-hitting, uncompromising, volatile, polemical, creative, mutable, and many-sided American intellectuals. As an author of seven books and twenty-five pamphlets, as a writer of over 1500 essays in more than thirty journals, and as an editor of six popular as well as elite journals of opinion, he commented on various central issues in American religious, philosophi­cal, political, and literary life. His writings, as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. noted some years ago, belong to all Americans, and are especially significant for the history of American intellectual life.

Brownson was a prominent figure in nineteenth-century American life and has been so recognized at least since Schlesinger's 1939 biography and Perry Miller's works on Transcendentalism. Fifteen percent of the entries in Miller's anthology on The Transcendentalists (1950) came from Brownson's works-that is, more selec­tions (16) from Brownson than any other person included in the text. Even in Miller's American Transcendentalists: Their Prose and Poetry (1957) two of the thirty-six entries are from Brownson. Miller claimed that Brownson was "in many respects the most powerful of the Transcendentalists-at any rate, the hardest hitting." From 1834 to 1844, Brownson was a "major spokesman" for the new school of Coleridge and Carlyle, the German literature, and especially of Victor Cousin's eclecticism; however, his frequent intellectual and religious transformations, and particularly his conversion to Catholicism in 1844, made him, according to Miller, a persona non grata among subsequent nineteenth-century intellectuals who "shamefully neglected" his "immense contribution" to American thought.-- From the Editor's Foreword

Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson

The critical edition of Orestes A. Brownson's Early Works is also now at its 4th volume. These volumes cover the period prior to Brownson's conversion to Catholicism, 1826 to 1843. Most of the provocative and critical essays he wrote during this period were never republished in his son Henry's twenty-volume edition of his works. His most significant essays on religion, politics, philosophy, literature and American culture are republished in this collect for the first time. Each of the volumes is preceded by an historical introduction which situates Brownson and his writings in the context of American and European intellectual history. Detailed indexes assist researchers in using these volumes. The writings as well as the volumes themselves will be arranged chronologically to demonstrate clearly the development of Brownson's thought.
The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson: Volume I- The Universalist Years, 1826-29 by Orestes Augustus Brownson, edited by Patrick W. Carey (Marquette University Press) The first volume of a seven-volume collection of the early works of Orestes Brownson contains a number of Brownson's sermons and essays as a Universalist minister. None of these texts, representing Brownson's early intellectual formation, were included in Henry Brownson's twenty-volume collection of his father's writings. Many of the texts reflect what Nathan Hatch has called the popular theology of early nineteenth century America . They demonstrate the blurring of the intellectual worlds of rationalism and supernaturalism, and show Brownson'S identification with the anti-clerical and anti-revivalist parties of the burned-over district of upstate New York . The texts, moreover, reveal an intellectual dialectic in Brownson's early thought that would remain with him for the rest of his life.

The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson: Volume II- The Free Thought and Unitarian Years, 1830-35
by Orestes Augustus Brownson, edited by Patrick W. Carey (Marquette University Press) The second volume contains a collection of relatively inaccessible essays Brownson wrote immediately after leaving the Universalist ministry, a period in his life when he had experienced some religious doubt and when he was most identified with the Workingmen's Party of New York. The volume also brings together for the first time essays and sermons Brownson wrote under the influence ofWilliam Ellery Channing. Many of the published essays and sermons from his pastorates in Walpole , New Hampshire , and Canton , Massachusetts , are likewise included in this edition. None of these texts, representing Brownson's maturing intellectual and religious developments, are in Henry Brownson's twenty volume edition of his father's works.
These essays, sermons, addresses, and lectures clearly demonstrate Brownson's gradual movement away from the rationalism of his Universalist period. The earliest essays in this collection reveal his separation from all organized religion, but give no indication of any hostility to religion as his autobiography of 1857 asserted. What they do show, though, is a continuous concern for issues of universal public education and social reform, a continuity with liberal Christianity in the form of Unitarianism, a gradual appropriation of the social Christianity of the French Saint-Simonians, and an initial openness and examination of the French Romantic and idealist philosophical tradition. One issue that looms large throughout many of these texts is that of unbelief and how the Christian can come to terms with the presence of religious doubt in the self and in early nineteenth century American culture. Brownson's personal experience with religious doubt drove him to search for a more convincing and realistic apologetic for Christianity in the nineteenth century than was available through Paley and other eighteenth century Christian apologists.

The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson: Volume III- The Transcendentalist Years, 1838-39 by Orestes Augustus Brownson, edited by Patrick W. Carey (Marquette University Press) The third volume, covering the period from May of 1836 to July of 1838, contains a collection of sermons and essays that focus on some of the central social, political, ethical and intellectual questions of the day. During these years Brownson was an active participant in the so-called "movement party." As one of the young turks within that party he took on those of the "stationary party" and called for changes in thinking and social arrangements that were upsetting to many in the establishment. There was hardly a national and local Boston problem that he did not address. The essays and sermons collected here reflect Brownson's involvement in the Transcendentalist movement, advocacy of the needs of the working class, battle with the nation's banks during the economic crash of 1837, appropriation and modification of Victor Cousin's and Th6odore Jouffroy's philosophies, participation in and reactions to the abolitionist movement, and promotion of the inherent connection between democracy and Christianity. These writings, arranged in chronological order, demonstrate the emergence of his thought on these and other issues, His thinking will develop in subsequent years on a number of these questions, but he articulates some key ideas here that remain constants throughout the remainder of his life.
Although Brownson identified himself with the "movement party' in Boston , he also separated himself from some of what he considered the more radical elements within Transcendentalism and within the abolitionist movement. There was a conservative streak in his thought, and it emerges slowly as he begins to define his own philosophy in conflict with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Amos Brownson Alcott among the Transcendentalist as well as with William Lloyd Garrison among the immediatist abolitionists. Gradually in reactions to both the liberal and conservative the currents of thought in Unitarian Boston, he began to develop a much more socialist approach to philosophy and society than was evident in the "movement party." The importance of the concrete, the historical, and the community began to emerge in his own philosophy during those years and those concerns contributed to his ambiguous identification with the young Boston radicals.

Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson: Volume IV- The Transcendentalist Years, 1838-39 by Orestes Augustus Brownson, edited by Patrick W. Carey (Marquette University Press) The fourth volume, covering the period from August of 1838 to October of 1839, contains a collection of essays that reflects Brownson's transcendentalism. In these essays on theol­ogy, philosophy, literature, politics, and education Brownson defines what he calls his own eclectic transcendentalism. He defines his own position within the American transcendentalist movement by reacting on the one hand to what he calls the subjectivism and logical pantheism of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Amos Bronson Alcott, and on the other to the rational em­piricism and supernaturalism of Andrews Norton. Like Emerson he calls for a new American literature, although he emphasizes its social dimensions and benefits and provides his own roman­tic-idealist interpretation of poetry. He supports the work of George Ripley, especially his attempts to promote German and French philosophy and romantic literature. Essays during this period also focus on the religious socialism of the French Catholic Felicite-Robert de Lamennais and Brownson's attempts to un­derline the reciprocal relationship between democracy and Chris­tianity. Brownson also continues his battles with William Lloyd Garrison and the immediate abolitionists, evaluates and criti­cizes the new science of phrenology, supports the Democratic administration's Indian removal policies, and censures Francis Lieber's theory of politics. The essays review and comment on most of the major intellectual and social movements within American culture.

Other Volumes due.

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