Accents Disconsolate: Longfellow’s Evangeline and Antebellum Politics



Blair K (2011) Accents Disconsolate: Longfellow’s Evangeline and Antebellum Politics. Literature in the Early American Republic, 3.

First paragraph: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (1847) was, from the moment of its publication until the early twentieth century, a literary and cultural phenomenon: a poem that made Longfellow "the most famous writer in America"; that helped to redefine the national culture of a people; that was endlessly recycled and reworked in historical accounts, fiction, stage and film adaptations; and that would have been familiar to most literate Americans of the 1850s and far beyond. The story, in Longfellow's distinctive hexameters, of how Evangeline and her lover Gabriel were separated when the Acadian people were forcibly exiled from Nova Scotia to North America in 1755, and of Evangeline's futile quest to find him, ending in a scene of deathbed recognition in old age, was one of the defining sentimental narratives of the nineteenth century and helped to make Longfellow into an internationally known household name. Yet from the mid-twentieth century onward, Evangeline has sunk into near-total neglect, critical as well as popular.

Literature in the Early American Republic: Volume 3

Publication date31/12/2011
PublisherAMS Press
Publisher URL

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Professor Kirstie Blair
Professor Kirstie Blair

Dean of Faculty of Arts and Humanities, AH Management and Support Team