Northern Illinois University Press

James Russell Lowell's The Biglow Papers [First Series]

A Critical Edition

Edited by Thomas Wortham

Mr. Lowell is one of the most rabid of the Abolition fanatics; and no Southerner who does not wish to be insulted, and at the same time revolted by a bigotry the most obstinately blind and deaf, should ever touch a volume by this author.

Thus wrote Edgar Allan Poe in his 1848 review of The Biglow Papers. Hosea Biglow was inspired by the enlistment fever of the Mexican War. The evils of slavery had pushed Lowell beyond a sanguine belief in material progressóback to the moral vision of his Puritan ancestors. Two hundred years before, this vision had led them into the wilderness to build their city on a hill. Lowell uses his satiric gifts to show that the city has become riddled with dark alleys, and that there is surely no sense in annexing a continent only to build more of the same. With its defiances of the Mexican War, the slave-racist power, capitalism, and the establishments of American class and caste, Lowell's witty and controversial critique of the American way has become a classic of Yankee political satire.

Thomas Wortham's edition of The Biglow Papers is the first modern critical edition of Lowell's classicóand the first of any kind to appear since the 1890s. Lowell's characters were quoted regularly in the popular press until World War I, but much of their wisdom and humor has become inaccessible to twentieth-century readers because of the complexities of Yankee dialect.

Wortham has translated all the Greek and Latin passages and tracked down Lowell's frequent literary and historical allusions. The entire text is presented with full scholarly apparatus, including a historical introduction and explanatory notes.

(1977) 350 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-053-0
cloth $38.50

Table of Contents

The Biglow Papers [First Series]
Notices of an Independent Press
Note to Title-Page
No. I. A Letter from Mr. Ezekiel Biglow of Jaalam to the Hon. Joseph T. Buckingham
No. II. A Letter from Mr. Hosea Biglow to the Hon. J. T. Buckingham
No. III. What Mr. Robinson Thinks
No. IV. Remarks of Increase D. O'Phace, Esquire
No. V. The Debate in the Sennit
No. VI. The Pious Editor's Creed
No. VII. A Letter from a Candidate for the Presidency in Answer to Suttin Questions Proposed by Mr. Hosea Biglow
No. VIII. A Second Letter from B. Sawin, Esq.
No. IX. A Third Letter from B. Sawin, Esq.
Textual Apparatus:
Textual Commentary
Pre-copy-text Substantive Variants
Rejected Substantives
Textual Notes
Verse Division
Word Division
"Letter from Rev. Mr. Wilbur"

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-053-0
cloth $38.50