The List: The Uses and Pleasures of Cataloguing

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 1. jaan 2004 - 252 pages

“I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in Walden. In creating this list, and many others that appear in his writings, Thoreau was working within a little-recognized yet ancient literary tradition: the practice of listing or cataloguing. This beautifully written book is the first to examine literary lists and the remarkably wide range of ways writers use them.
Robert Belknap first examines lists through the centuries—from Sumerian account tablets and Homer’s catalogue of ships to Tom Sawyer’s earnings from his fence-painting scheme—then focuses on lists in the works of four American Renaissance authors: Emerson, Whitman, Melville, and Thoreau. Lists serve a variety of functions in Emerson’s essays, Whitman’s poems, Melville’s novels, and Thoreau’s memoirs, and Belknap discusses their surprising variety of pattern, intention, scope, art, and even philosophy. In addition to guiding the reader through the list’s many uses, this book explores the pleasures that lists offer.

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Contents

Melville
120
CHAPTER 5
168
A List of Literary Lists
207
Notes
225
Bibliography
239
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Robert E. Belknap is instructor of English at Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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