Emersonian Perfectionism in John Williams’s 'Butcher’s Crossing'

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


I argue that John Williams’s novel Butcher’s Crossing (1960) can be profitably read as an investigation into the ‘liveability’ of Emersonian Perfectionism, i.e. the version of ‘a dimension or tradition of the moral life that spans the course of Western thought and concerns what used to be called the state of one’s soul’ (Cavell 1990: 2) such as it manifests itself in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. A reading of the novel along these lines provides insight not only into Emerson’s ethical thinking but also issues surrounding the benefits of literature from a perfectionist perspective.
Period2019 Oct 8
Held atUniversity of Pardubice, Czech Republic
Degree of RecognitionInternational