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Reappraising Political TheoryRevisionist Studies in the History of Political Thought$
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Terence Ball

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198279952

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198279957.001.0001

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The Myth of Adam and American Identity

The Myth of Adam and American Identity

Chapter:
(p.273) 12 The Myth of Adam and American Identity
Source:
Reappraising Political Theory
Author(s):

Terence Ball (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198279957.003.0012

This concluding chapter looks at a pervasive American myth—that of the American Adam—which holds that America was originally an Eden, and Americans like Adam before the Fall: fresh, innocent, and full of hope. As R.W.B. Lewis argues in The American Adam, this myth pervades American literature. I attempt to show that it pops up in other unsuspected genres as well. I illustrate this claim by looking afresh at three thinkers—John Rawls, Gerard O’Neill, and Richard Rorty—whose work, doubtless unbeknownst to them, embodies `Adamic’ themes and imagery.

Keywords:   American Adam, Gerard O’Neill, R.W.B. Lewis, literature, myth, national identity, John Rawls, Richard Rorty, USA

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