English Department

Nobility Eclipsed

Sanctuary in the Wilderness: A Critical Introduction to American Hebrew PoetryBy Alan Mintz (Stanford University Press, 520 pp., $65) I. ON DECEMBER 17, 2007, on the storied stage of the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Hebrew language—its essence, its structure, its metaphysic— entered American discourse in so urgent a manner as to renew, if not to inflame, an ancient argument. The occasion was a public conversation between Marilynne Robinson and Robert Alter: a not uncommon match of novelist with literary scholar.

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Click here to read letters by Fred Kaplan, Michael Kazin, John Stauffer, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The following is Sean Wilentz's response to their letters. I wrote a 25,000 word essay about Abraham Lincoln, not Barack Obama. My aim was to review some of the most prominent scholarly books interpreting Lincoln on the occasion of his bicentennial, and to offer a different view of Lincoln as, first and foremost, a democratic politician.

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