American Writers And The SaccoVanzetti Case — страница 4

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the setting of Hawthorne`s "My Kinsman, Major Molineux," Henry James`s The Bostonians, and the beginning of The Education of Henry Adams, whose author observes, "Politics … had always been the systematic organization of hatreds, and Massachusetts politics had been as harsh as the climate." [15] The Commonwealth of Massachusetts had been the scene of prior infamous trials, both historical (the Salem witch trials) and fictional (The Scarlet Letter). William Lloyd Garrison published the antislavery newspaper The Liberator in Boston. More than perhaps any other American city, Boston is a complex site of rebellion and tradition, of hereditary class privilege and immigration — all elements of the Sacco-Vanzetti case. The executions of Sacco and Vanzetti, like

the executions of the Haymarket anarchists, exposed contradictions in the social imaginary of a unified America. The executions also supported the claims of anarchist theorists that justice and the State were incompatible. Another figure haunting the Sacco-Vanzetti trial had lived in New England. In his political essays David Henry Thoreau, who like Godwin has been described as a "philosophical anarchist," [16] inveighed against institutionalized forms of injustice, in particular the Fugitive Slave Act, the Mexican War, and the execution of John Brown. Thoreau`s general criticisms of government often echo Godwin`s. The opening sentences of "Civil Disobedience" are still quoted by anarchists; Thoreau`s criticism of voting ("all voting is a sort of gaming

… playing with moral questions"), his distrust of law and institutions, and his advocacy of rebellion against state-sanctioned injustice are intrinsic to anarchist theory. His bitter attack on his home state in the essay "Slavery in Massachusetts," an assault on its judges, governor, press, and complacent citizenry, prefigures many of critiques made by Sacco and Vanzetti`s supporters. "My thoughts are murder to the State," Thoreau wrote of Massachusetts`s enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, "and invariably go plotting against her." [17] In "A Plea for Captain John Brown," Thoreau even endorsed the use of force in a righteous cause. Emma Goldman called him "the greatest American Anarchist." The Sacco and Vanzetti case

exposed the limits of American freedom because the two men were, as Italian immigrants, not just ethnically but racially marked by the Bostonians and because as anarchists they opposed the very idea of the nation-state. Perhaps Sacco and Vanzetti were misled by the similarity of the American keywords–freedom, liberty, equality–to the anarchist keywords. "I was crazy to come to this country," Sacco said in his imperfect English during the trial, "because I was liked a free country." Despite an indigenous tradition of anarchist thought—anarchists and their historians like to quote anti-statist remarks made by Paine, Jefferson, Emerson, Thoreau, and Benjamin Tucker–and the pacifist nature of much anarchist theory, anarchism was associated in the American

press with immigrants like Emma Goldman and with acts of violence like the McKinley assassination and Alexander Berkman’s assault on Frick. Because all four authors were personally and emotionally involved in the Sacco-Vanzetti trial, their texts are deliberate acts of memory and reparation, variations of the elegy; they are thus engaged with sentiment, with feeling, which is, as Suzanne Clark argues, taboo in what became canonized as modernist. Explaining how this taboo functions to exclude women writers, Clark notes that "as an epithet, sentimental condenses the way gender still operates as a political unconscious within criticism to trigger shame, embarrassment, and disgust." [18] Male writers of this period who espoused oppositional politics were also accused of

sentimentality. Edmund Wilson wrote disparagingly: "When a man as intelligent as Dos Passos–that is, a man a good deal more intelligent than, say, Michael Gold or Upton Sinclair [both defenders of Sacco and Vanzetti], who hold similar political views–when so intelligent a man and so good an artist allows his bias so to falsify his picture of life that, in spite of all the accurate observation and all the imaginative insight, its values are partly those of melodrama–we begin to guess some stubborn sentimentalism at the bottom of the whole thing, some deeply buried streak of hysteria" [19] [italics added]. According to Wilson, gender is not a matter of a writer`s biological sex but of his or her politics; male writers also can seem sentimental, melodramatic, and