Voyages of the Self marks the third volume of Barbara Novak’s trilogy of works, which include her two critically acclaimed books, American Painting of the Nineteenth Century and Nature and Culture, pillars in the field of nineteenth century visual culture of the United States
Novak’s second book, Nature and Culture, was chosen as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year in 1980 by the New York Times, and was a nominee for the 1980 National Book Critics Circle Award, American Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Non-fiction Award, and was an Editor’s Choice for Time magazine. Novak has been long acknowledged as one of the premier guides for American art historians
Barbara Novak is one of America’s premier art historians, the author of the seminal books American Painting of the Nineteenth Century and Nature and Culture. Now, with the paperback of Voyages of the Self, this esteemed critic completes the trilogy begun with the two earlier works, offering once again an exhilarating exploration of American art and culture. In this book, Novak explores several inspired pairings of key writers and painters, drawing insightful parallels between such masters as John Singleton Copley and Jonathan Edwards, Winslow Homer and William James, Frederic Edwin Church and Walt Whitman, and Jackson Pollock and Charles Olson.
Through these and other groupings, Novak tracks the varied meanings of the self in America, in which the most salient characteristics of each artist or writer is shown to draw from-and in turn influence-the larger map of American life.
Two major threads weaving through the book are the American preoccupation with the “object” and our continuing return to pragmatism. Through fruitful comparisons-whether between Copley and Edwards, or Lane and Emerson, or Ryder and Dickinson-Novak sheds unmatched light on our nation’s artistic heritage.