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The Meaning of Rivers: Flow & Reflection in American Literature

Foreword by Wayne Franklin — vii

Introduction: What Do Rivers Mean? — xi

1. Overlooking the River — 1

• “‘Lay low and hold your breath, for I’m bout to turn myself loose!’”: Craft on the Mississippi — 4

• “Just Like A B C”: Lessons in River Literacy — 13

• “Continued Perplexities”: Losing the River, Finding the Mississippi — 19

2. By the River — 27

• “Close sat I by a goodly river’s side”: Spiritual Relations — 29

• “And fear flowed under everything”: Worldly Relations — 38

• “We sat on the bank and the river went by”: Family Relations — 47

3. Up the River — 61

• “For this riuer of Moratico promiseth great things”: Lured into Ambiguity — 64

• “Infinite impediments, yet no discouragement”: Up the River and into the Swamp — 68

• “Never get off the boat—absolutely goddamn right”: Ending Up at the Beginning — 77

4. Down the River — 87

• “On our way down the Great Unknown”: Form & Unconformity — 97

• “Out of the sleep of mild people, into the wild rippling water”: Deliverance — 118

5. Crossing the River — 127

• “Sullen, surging waters … between her and liberty”: Crossing Once and for All — 130

• “And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence”: Endless Crossing — 141

6. Up & Down the River — 153

• “When They Flow by Our Doors”: The River as Double-Agent — 157

• “It’s water was fuller of reflection”: Thing, Image, Turning-Point — 165

• “And all things seemed with us to flow”: Rivers, Literature, Meaning — 170

Notes — 175

Works Cited — 203

Index of Rivers, Writers, & Artists — 217

Posted March 13, 2011 by the meaning of rivers

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