ペンをふるう騎士--ジェイコブ・リ-スと「ある自伝--アメリカ人の誕生」 [in Japanese] Knight Wielding a Pen : Jacob A. Riis and The Making of an American [in Japanese]
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During the last few years I have been examining "antimodern sentiment at the turn of the century" in the reiated fields of popular culture, painting, thought, and literature. As Jackson Lears has pointed out, strong antimodernism prevailed at this time, confronting the rapid modernization of American society. Through the investigation of several antimodernists of this period, I have found that these cultural heroes criticized the contemporary American society by creating in their imagination alternative worlds other than this world ridden with tremendous troubles. Owen Wister, for example, "in-vented" the cowboy hero in his western novel when the actual cowboy groaning under unremitting toil was disappearing. Winslow Homer idealized in his landscape paintings ancient fisherwives of the North Sea, the aged Adirondack Guide, and primitive negro divers in Bahama. It is well-known that Henry Adams admired the Virgin in twelfth and thirteenth century gothic cathedrals. In creating alternative worlds, these antimodernists were heavily indebted to what Carl G.Jung called "archetypes." Along with a strong current of antimodernism, however, there also existed a stronger progressive current to cope with the problems created by the unprecedented urbanization and industrialization at the turn of the century. Among the precursors of the progressives who started social reform in the 1890s, preceding the overall reform movement of the progressive period, I have chosen for the present paper Jacob A. Riis, a Danish immigrant and forerunner of the muckrakers. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the characteristics of Riis as a precursor of the reform movement in the early twentieth century, by studying his works, among them, especially, his autobiography, The Making of an American. Studying a response toward modernization different from that of the antimodernists, I hope I can illuminate the characteristics of antimodernism of this period more clearly. Despite his progressive vision in adopting twentieth century views in introducing municipal power in solving social and urban problems, however, it has become clear in this study that the journalist-reformer, Riis, shared the antimodern sentiment with Wister, Homer, and Adams, and that his antimodern sentiment was also strongly imbued with archetypes. Riis had a strong inclination toward pastoralism, which was typically revealed in his "flower campaign" to fill the slum with flowers for the children who had never visited the country. Furthermore, his ideas concerning poverty and the slums were so strongly restrained by the Franklinean idea of "industry" that he could never understand the structural causes of unemployment In the twentieth century. Riis's way of using language in explaining an ideal society and in delineating his own image as social reformer was also premodern. He was heavily indebted to the Jeffersonian ideal of the republic stated in the "Declaration of Independence" when he appealed to the public concerning the tenement problems; and his own image as reformer was that of minister and valiant knight. Abandon-Ing his wish to be a preacher, he had "consecrated his pen" to punish the evil of the city; and being proud of the Golden Cross awarded by King Christian of Denmark, he identified himself with the Viking and the independent yeoman, who served no man as master. Thus, we may conclude that Riis's self-image as reformer was the "Knight wielding a pen." Through this study. I have tried to clarify the characteristics of Jacob A. Riis as a transitional figure from a nineteenth century reformer to that of the twentieth century. When we call him a precursor of the progressives of the early twentieth century, we should remember that reformers of the progressive period were also strongly restrained by nineteenth century values.
- Doshisha American studies
Doshisha American studies (28), p1-20, 1992
Alternative:Center for American Studies, Doshisha University