The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America

The Machine in the Garden Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America For over four decades Leo Marx s work has focused on the relationship between technology and culture in th and th century America His research helped to define and continues to give depth to the

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  • Title: The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America
  • Author: Leo Marx
  • ISBN: 9780195133516
  • Page: 311
  • Format: Paperback
  • For over four decades, Leo Marx s work has focused on the relationship between technology and culture in 19th and 20th century America His research helped to define and continues to give depth to the area of American studies concerned with the links between scientific and technological advances, and the way society and culture both determine these links The Machine inFor over four decades, Leo Marx s work has focused on the relationship between technology and culture in 19th and 20th century America His research helped to define and continues to give depth to the area of American studies concerned with the links between scientific and technological advances, and the way society and culture both determine these links The Machine in the Garden fully examines the difference between the pastoral and progressive ideals which characterized early 19th century American culture, and which ultimately evolved into the basis for much of the environmental and nuclear debates of contemporary society This new edition is appearing in celebration of the 35th anniversary of Marx s classic text It features a new afterword by the author on the process of writing this pioneering book, a work that all but founded the discipline now called American Studies.

    One thought on “The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America”

    1. An interesting bout of literary criticism that seeks to tease out the thread of emerging industrialization as it threatened the Arcadian dream in 19th and 20th century American novels/art. Launching from Irving's Sleepy Hollow note to notice a train whistle toot off in the distance of Walden, Marx introduces some profound critical insights into how America is imagined. Marx's chapter on Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST is an amazing exercise in critical extension, as he laces together a maze of specula [...]

    2. A. Synopsis: This book describes and evaluates the uses of the pastoral ideal in the interpretation of the American experience. Marx attempts to (1) trace how the ideal was adapted to the conditions of American experience (the train through the countryside) (2) Discuss how the pastoral ideal emerged as a distinctly American theory of society (the middle landscape) and (3) trace its transformation under industrialization (change from pastoral ideal to pastoral design). This is not a book about li [...]

    3. A lovely book. Leo Marx argues that the pastoral ideal in America -- developed first by Europeans projecting their hopes and fears onto a new landscape, then by native-born Americans examining their growing society -- expresses an ambivalence at the heart of the nation's character.On the one hand, Marx argues, the pastoral always implies that the peaceful, natural countryside is threatened by the advance of technology and industry. Thus, pastoralism constitutes a form of protest against anxiety- [...]

    4. For what it is, I'm sure The Machine in the Garden is very good. Marx puts forward an interesting analysis of the social consciousness of intellectual communities considering technology during the late-17th through mid-19th centuries, and presents the analysis in a thoughtful and artful way. That is no doubt why the book is still relevant to curriculums in the states decades after its initial publication. It is profoundly readable for something closing in on 400 pages, if you include the afterwo [...]

    5. According to Marx (Leo, not Karl) the pastoral — an ideal place balanced between capricious wilderness and urban despair — has been praised in Western arts since Virgil. So compelling was this vision of man's ideal habitat that after Europeans discovered an "empty" wilderness continent notable men (such as Jefferson) wished to create a society based on that which was for so long dreamt of in art. Hence the Jeffersonian plan to create a nation of small landowners, dispersed across the land an [...]

    6. A thorough and captivating essay that will make you look at any American film differently.Although his study is more concerned with America's literary canons, the Technology/Nature dichotomy is so present in America even now that reading this book will shed light on much more than just American literature.

    7. It helped that I have read Shakespeare's, "The Tempest," and Huckleberry Finn and Moby-Dick and Walden and Henry Adams', Education and The Great Gatsby. But in reading Marx, I am inspired to read other works he referenced too: Jefferson's, Notes on the State of Virginia and Robert Beverley's, Notes on Virginia, and Melville's, Typee, and Hawthorne's short story, "Ethan Brand." I am realizing that "I have miles to go before I sleep" in my journey through American Literature.Marx's study of the pa [...]

    8. Leo Marx’s 1964 literary study The Machine in the Garden emerged from the early decades of the interdisciplinary field of American studies, creating a foundation for thinking about nature and American society. Positing the existence of a coherent and continuous national culture, Marx and other scholars explored that national culture through recurring symbols and myths. Key to American identity, according to Marx, were two deep but conflicting systems of values; reverence for a purifying nature [...]

    9. Marx's thesis, roughly stated, is that: Americans applied idea's developed about landscape in the old world to the landscape they discovered in the new world. In doing so, the landscape became a "repository of value" (value meaning economic, spiritual, etc.). The main idea about the landscape that travelled with them from Europe was the idea of "pastoralism".Pastorialism, roughly expressed, represents the yearning by civilised man to occupy the space in between "art" and "nature". Marx does an e [...]

    10. While furiously critiqued as a potent example of the myth and symbol school, The Machine in the Garden posits that the pastoral ideal is unique to the American experience, tracing examples of it and its interruption by industrialization/technology within a self-selected (and now confirmed) canon of American literature (e.g. Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Twain, Fitzgerald). Published during the cold war and based on the postwar trend toward consensus history, Marx searches for and supports an arg [...]

    11. An important, albeit flawed book in American Studies. As Marx acknowledges in the 2000 "afterward," his 1964 book did make large claims about "Americans" and "America" that were rooted in the work of a narrow population (privileged, white males) and that didn't take into account writers and peoples of other genders, races, and classes. Yet he resists the charge (which I'll repeat) that he universalizes his claims about culture -- he has few examples and uses them to make large pronouncements. (A [...]

    12. Perhaps the best book I've ever read. Marx provides a detailed historical and literary account of the pastoral ideal. Not only does he reveal how this human longing dates back thousands of years, but also how it has influenced recent history, especially the colonization of America. Furthermore, he provides countless literary examples of how this ideal drives our collective consciousness and imagination. Lastly, Marx demonstrates the tight bonds between technology, industrialization, capitalism a [...]

    13. America in the 18th was looked on as "the new Eden" for the Western world. Perhaps a little more for the scholar, than the general reader, Leo Marx does excellent work in tracing this vision and its literary impact over the next two centuries. As the Industrial Revolution made its way "across the pond" this pastoral perspective was forced to confront reality on many levels. Oxford University Press reissued this several years ago and reading it has given me: 1) an new perspective on many works of [...]

    14. A fine study and a lively read that works through some of the contradictions and co-dependencies found within the American 18th/19th-century dichotomy of country and city, progress and pastoral. My greatest frustration is that so much time is devoted to a reading of Shakespeare's Tempest which, neat though it may be, falls quite some distance from the period with which the work is concerned. Some of this space could have been spent much more usefully in fleshing out some of the issues only raise [...]

    15. I honestly wish I wanted to finish this one, but I wasn't in the mood for the academic slog it would take. I read about half and got distracted because of its English class textbook approach. Too often I felt it veers from its brilliant topic of literary pastoralism into simply analysis of works in general. I may have stuck it out if he had stuck to the topic a bit more. Too bad because the on-topic sections were brilliant!

    16. In this seminal American Studies classic, Marx analyzes how 19th century American literary figures of the "middle landscape," occupied in the contradictions between the pastoral ideal and industrialization. Marx puts forth some interesting arguments, but the overall work is limited by the time and "Myth and Symbol" paradigm that it was created during. This an important work to be aware of, and expand in new directions upon.

    17. excellent analyses. especially the chapter about the tempest. funny, though, that he doesn't ever acknowledge the fact that certain professions (i.e. architecture, landscape, planning, etc.) directly engage with these issues, and actively *shape* the world. (for example, thomas jefferson's writings on pastoralism and a unique american identity can be seen in a quite different light if you think about the building styles he advocated for our nation's capitalported directly from france.

    18. I read this book as part of a class on cultural history, and I must say I loved it. my only gripes are with the chapter on Shakespeare and the last, very long chapter. They are interesting, but there were parts where the information seemed less relevant to the topic at hand. Overall an excellent book though.

    19. Thoroughly enjoyable study from the myth/symbol school of American studies, although I tend to think of the book as a book, as Marx would say, that *anticipates* ecocriticism. [And I cringe every time he uses like terms in the book-I seriously doubt all the authors he describes thought of themselves as prescient]

    20. Like much other midcentury scholarship, the book bets big on a grand narrative—that American literature of the nineteenth century is characterized by machines interrupting pastoral scenes—that does turn out to be convincing. From a twenty-first-century perspective, the argument suffers from a weird focus on Matthiessen-five sorts of writers.

    21. Everytime I re-read this book, I'm impressed with it all over again. Perhaps I'm supposed to launch into the standard critiques of the myth and symbol school here, but I think this is a really useful work and significantly contributed to my understanding of the roles of nature and technology in the American Literary Imaginary.

    22. Details the disconnect between humans and our natural environment as a result of industrialization. This was an english-lit required reading, but it brings insight in an interesting and timely way into the current environmental crisis.

    23. Interesting premise, though longer than I wanted to spend exploring it. It helps if you know the Tempest, Moby Dick, and Huckleberry Finn before reading. As with most literary analysis, I found it both insightful and overplayed.

    24. One of the foundation books for American Studies. Leo Marx attempts to capture the clash between technology and nature through early American history citing obscure documents.

    25. I've read a few books that heavily reference Marx, so I was thinking there wouldn't be much new here, but I was wrong. So fascinating. I especially loved his reading of Huckleberry Finn.

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