Spoonbill Books, 218 Bedford Avenue
Please join us Thursday, January 14th at 7:00 PM to enjoy Chris Jennings reading from his new book (releasing January 12th), PARADISE NOW (Random House).
PARADISE NOW: The Story of American Utopianism, is a lively, thought-provoking intellectual history of the frenzied golden age of 19th-century American utopianism, which left its mark on the way we view the American character, even today.
What do Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, and Horace Greeley have in common? All were early supporters of Brook Farm, the commune founded in Western Massachusetts in 1841, just one group of American utopians who tried to usher in a communal society free from the competitive and industrial ills of the 19th century. Drawing on the legacy of the European Enlightenment and the religious fervor of revival movements, groups like the Shakers, Owenites, Fourierists, Icarians, and Perfectionists were the source of hotly debated ideas and of practices that both inspired and scandalized the American public.
In this relatively young United States, religious leaders, radical politicians, and secular intellectuals saw the country as blank canvas on which to realize their revolutionary visions of the future. Jennings’ deft narrative illuminates the infectious optimism and lunatic creativity of our utopian predecessors who insisted the world would follow their lead. These utopians put property, monogamy, money, hierarchy, sex, diet, and family all up for debate. They were the epitome of a uniquely American questing spirit that is still very much part of our national character.