THE MACHINE IN THE GARDEN by Leo Marx

THE MACHINE IN THE GARDEN

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

American writers seldom, if ever, have designed satisfactory resolutions for their pastoral fables, concludes Leo Marx in one of the most searching and significant studies of our literature to have appeared in a decade. The work, with marvelous control and keen scrutiny, presents a metaphoric design, that of the symbolic landscape of ""Arcadia"" and that of what Blake called the ""dark Satanic mills,"" s reflected in Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Whitman, Twain, Henry Adams and Scott Fitzgerald. An extremely complex theme, the conflict between technology and nature, running deep into history and embedded in a paradox. For the Eden dream of the New World was one of a state of innocence and freedom, exemplified by the Elizabethan explorations to our shores, inspiring, as Marx notes, much of the The Tempest. Then the Colonial Age, the clearing of the wilderness, the rise of commerce, the factory system and factory cities; ""alienated labor"" set in, and Emerson wrote: ""Things are in the saddle/And ride mankind."" It's depressing to realize how contemporary a cry that is. Against such a background Marx splendidly analyzes the violence of Moby Dick, the rational escape-patterns of Walden, Adams' apocalyptic image of the Dynamo and the Virgin, the withdrawal from ""reality"" in Gatsby, and so forth, all as varying responses to the loss of the American Dream an original and continually illuminating contribution.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1964
Publisher: Oxford