[KS] Percival Lowell

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreanstudies.com
Mon May 18 19:13:16 EDT 2015

Dear Hyung Il, and All:

This as a belated footnote to the Percival Lowell thread -- something I 
accidentally just stumbled over:

Back in 1981 T.J. Jackson Lears published a then well received and 
successful book entitled: 
_No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American 
Culture, 1880-1920_. 

Among other issues, Lears discusses the retreat to the exotic, to the 
Arts and Crafts movement, the travelogues covering East Asia, etc. He 
kind of psychologizes cultural production of the time, to then explain 
the existence of conservative America. Percival Lowell is discussed 
(pp. 234-237) under the chapter header "From Patriarchy to Nirvana" as 
an example for one of these rather mediocre scholars and weak 
personalities who could not find a satisfying role within their own 
family -- struggling without success against their authoritarian 
fathers, etc. -- but then find their fulfillment in the seemingly 
weaker cultures (either within the U.S. or at some 'exotic' places 

I quote:
"The journey to the East dispelled his 'feminine' desire for 
withdrawal, eased his accommodation with paternal authority, and 
reinforced his commitment to conventional male ego ideals. The 
encounter with Oriental character provided a negative background 
against which he could focus his own diffuse sense of identity." (p. 

In the meantime we have a number of dissertations and articles that 
deal with the perception of "Oriental culture" in the United States 
around the turn of the century. But this 1981 book is still great in 
really making important points of explaining the roots within American 
society itself for this reception process. NONE OF ALL THIS HAT 
I would like to underline. 

Last note: The pages on Percival Lowell in the Lears book make little 
sense if isolated ... if anyone follows up I suggest you read the 
entire book. The arguments are all tied together and rather complex.


Frank Hoffmann

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