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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

(p.273) 12 The Myth of Adam and American Identity
Reappraising Political Theory

Terence Ball (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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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