D. Berton Emerson, “George Lippard’s The Quaker City: Disjointed Text, Dismembered Bodies, Regenerated Democracy” (pp. 102–131)
This essay argues that George Lippard’s The Quaker City (1844–1845), originally published in ten separate numbers, is best understood when read more consistently with Lippard’s own mid-production assessment: that he was producing two different books, a novel and its sequel. Doing so reveals that the target of Lippard’s unruly social protest transitions away from a nation-framed story featuring the seduction of an innocent woman and the moral degradation of a community in which such a crime would be possible, to a broader complaint in the sequel against the lack of democratic power and agency at the local level. I start by reconstructing the disjointed composition and publication-in-parts schedule of The Quaker City, along with some historical developments that might have led to its changed course, in order to highlight Lippard’s shifting design and the narrative’s vernacular aesthetics. Turning to the narrative, I explore how the shifting trajectory between novel and sequel becomes most compelling in Lippard’s treatment of printed texts/print culture and bodies/body politic, two entities frequently evoked in the cultivation and understanding of national (imagined) community. In Lippard’s imaginative revision, the sequel thus grapples with alternative political possibilities that discard faith in nation-scaled remedies and instead works through the complexities of a regenerated, localized democracy.
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