Henry Theodore Tuckerman

Henry Theodore Tuckerman ( born April 20, 1813 in Boston, † December 17, 1871 in New York ) was an American writer, poet, literary and art critic.


Tuckerman was born in 1813 as the son of a prosperous Boston family and enjoyed a comprehensive education in the best schools of the city. In 1831 he began studying at Harvard University, but he had to cancel due to health problems. However, in 1850 the University awarded him the honorary degree of Master of Arts.

For Stays he visited in 1833 Italy and France, 1837-39 Sicily, Florence, Malta and Gibraltar. After his stay in Europe Tuckerman published the travel sketch The Italian Sketch -Book, and the romantic and sentimental travel novel Isabel, or Sicily: a pilgrimage. Its finely-honed prose caught on, was praised among others by Washington Irving, and he distinguished himself in the coming years as a columnist, essayist and literary and art critic of various magazines. He wrote regularly for, among other things Walsh 's Review, North American Review, Graham 's Magazine, Literary World, Southern Literary Messenger, and the Christian Examiner.

1845 Tuckerman located in New York, where he was a regular guest at the literary salon of Anne Charlotte Botta soon. There he learned as a result many American thinkers know and took himself up to his death a significant role in the intellectual life of the city. In particular, he developed a close friendship with Herman Melville. Also closed Tuckerman friendship with Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had fled in 1850 after the defeat of the Roman Republic to New York. In the following years Tuckerman was one of the most prominent American advocate of the Risorgimento and in particular Garibaldi. So he placed shortly after the " train of a Thousand" in the January issue in 1861 of the influential North American Review an effusive article about Garibaldi, who may have contributed to its wide support for Garibaldi in the American public.

Literary work

Tuckerman even wrote poetry and dabbled in Isabel as a novelist, but his reputation founded primarily on his essays. In his travel sketches he was looking for his American readers the peculiarities of European nations closer to, in his later works he devoted himself increasingly to American subjects. A Month in England contains, among other things, a report on the stormy reactions of the British reading public to the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's abolitionist novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. In America and Her Commentators of 1864 he came to terms with the self - perception and perception of American culture; the work is the effort to note the the face of the Civil War tarnished self-confidence of the American nation aufzuhelfen again.

1853-57 published Tuckerman mainly biographical essays on figures of American and European history and culture. His last work was a biography of the politician and novelist John Pendleton Kennedy. Among his literary critical works include Thoughts on the Poets, which was also translated into German in 1856, and the series of articles Characteristics of Literature in which he discussed the relative merits of William Shenstone about, William Hazlitt, Edmund Burke and Edward Everett. These character studies are in their Impressionism and the attempt to try to explain an artist's work from his biography out, typical of the philology of the 19th century. After Tuckerman but comes to the merit of having tried one of the first authors on the portrayal of American literary history. In 1852 he wrote a " demolition of American literature " (A Sketch of American Literature ) as an attachment for the American edition of Thomas B. Shaw's Outlines of English Literature. This textbook of English literary history, first published in 1846 in London, set up in the 1870s, the authoritative work of its kind in the school and university use of both sides of the Atlantic dar. In short sections presented Tuckerman is a selection of American authors from the colonial period up to 1850 before; as best and " represäntativsten " American poet William Cullen Bryant whether he named his " successful processing of native subjects, his religious feeling force freedom and love, together with poetic skill". Many now canonical authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman had Tuckerman except eight or dedicated to them only a few words; However, he paid tribute to Melville, who happened at that time when literary critics into disgrace and into the wider public into oblivion when he in 1870 his essay for a new edition of Outlines of English Literature updated.

Tuckerman's literary style and conception was the Victorian taste according dignified and conventional. Thanks a literary feud with Edgar Allan Poe Tuckerman become known to posterity mainly as cross -behaved bore in memory. Poe wrote in a December 1841 published in Graham 's Magazine polemic, Tuckerman's writings were " unbearably tough and boring". Tuckerman for his part, in the following year as editor of The Boston Miscellany which to reprint submitted by Poe short story The Tell- Tale Heart ( German The Tell-Tale Heart) from: If Mr. Poe " quieter " deigned to submit articles so Tuckerman, he would certainly be a good correspondents from. Poe then wrote in his reply to the magazine: " If Mr. Tuckerman is on its peacefulness, it is the magazine, whose leadership he Messrs Bradbury and Soden have transferred in their stupidity, safely beds to eternal rest soon. " Poe avenged himself by ( German A riddle ) the term tuckermanities coined in his 1850 published poem An Enigma: the general tuckermanities are arrant / Bubbles - ephemeral and so transparent ( " the general Tuckermanitäten are outrageous soap bubbles, ephemeral and so transparent "). In Charles Frederick Briggs ' The trippings of Tom Pepper of 1846, a satirical roman à clef about the American literary scene, Tuckerman is known as " Mr. Wooley, the quiet critics of Boston, author of Some quiet thoughts about literary creation ' caricature '.

Tuckerman was alive despite this Häme a respected at home and abroad writer. Thus, even went so far in 1888 Meyers Lexicon to the assertion that since Washington Irving "barely made ​​an American in graceful and pleasing genre of national writing larger and promoted as an art critic the care of the artistic interests of the Republic in höherm degree 'had Tuckerman. Published Tuckerman's style has many of his contemporaries too tame and polite, so he got ( as many once respected writers of the solid - bourgeois literature ) in the 20th century into oblivion. Significantly, the judgment, the Van Wyck Brooks precipitated 1948 Tuckerman: " A shallow and diffuse critics with certain qualities as an essayist, a good memory and a pleasing style. He wrote intelligent platitudes at a high level and also had something that resembled a passion for literature. " In recent American literary histories Tuckerman's name is rarely mentioned.

Art Criticism

Of some influence, however, were Tuckerman's biographical and theoretical writings on the visual arts in the United States that contributed to the creation of a canon of American painting. So is his 1867 published book Book of the Artists - consisting of a preface, general essays on landscape painting, portraiture and sculpture as well as 27 biographical articles on painters of John Singleton Copley by Albert Bierstadt - one of the first attempts, the history of painting in the United States represent in the art historical context and to take the national peculiarities of American art. It is thus an expression of the target at the time emancipation of American culture as expressed at this time also in the formulation of a different from the English National American literature. The Book of the Artists varies in its consideration of the perspectives of American art between doubt and confidence. So Tuckerman sat about the role of the artist in a country apart, in which there is no state arts funding and the art is more than elsewhere, therefore, subject to commercial constraints, and came to contradictory conclusions: So could this competitive constraint indeed be inspiring and even to result that the American liberality in painting expressions, but he writes elsewhere that would often " corrupted by the spirit of the trade" " the legitimate demands " of art.


  • The Italian Sketch - Book ( 1835)
  • Isabel, or Sicily: a Pilgrimage (1839 )
  • Rambles and Reveries (1841 )
  • Thoughts on the Poets (1846 )
  • Artist Life, or Sketches of American Painters (1847 )
  • Characteristics of Literature ( 1849-51 )
  • The Optimist ( essays, 1850)
  • Life of Commodore Silas Talbot ( 1851)
  • Poems ( poems, 1851; digitized )
  • A Month in England ( travel sketch, 1853; digitized )
  • Memorial of Horatio Greenough (1853 )
  • Leaves from the Diary of a Dreamer (1853 )
  • Mental portraits, or Studies of Character (1853; expanded edition in 1857 as Essays, Biographical and Critical, or Studies of Character; collection of biographical essays, digitized )
  • The Character and Portraits of Washington ( 1859)
  • America and Her Commentators (1864; digitized )
  • A Sheaf of Verse Bound for the Fair ( poems, 1864; digitized )
  • Maga Papers about Paris (1867 )
  • Book of the Artists ( 1867)
  • Life of John Pendleton Kennedy ( 1871)