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Brook Farm: The Dark Side of Utopia (New)
by Delano, Sterling F
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Binding: Hardcover with dust jacket
Book ID: 9780674011601, 0674011600
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Life at Brook Farm resembled an Arcadian adventure, in which the days began with the choir singing Mozart and Haydn and ended with drama and dancing. But how accurate is this image? In the first comprehensive examination of the famous utopian community in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, Sterling Delano reveals a surprisingly grim side to paradise as the Brook Farmers faced relentless financial pressures, a declining faith in their leaders, and smoldering class antagonisms.
Delano weaves through this remarkable story the voices of the Brook Farmers themselves, including their founder, George Ripley. Ripley founded Brook Farm in 1841 as an agrarian and pastoral society that would "insure a more natural union between intellectual and manual labor," yet he was surprisingly unprepared to lead it. Three years after its founding, Brook Farm was transformed into an industrial Phalanx. Longtime members departed, and key supporters withdrew. A smallpox scare, a financial lawsuit filed by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and a devastating fire all contributed to the community's ultimate demise. Despite its failure, however, the Brook Farmers recalled only its positive aspects, including the opportunities there for women and its progressive educational program.
In his wonderfully evocative account, Delano gives us a more complete picture than ever before of Brook Farm, and vividly chronicles the spirit of the Transcendental age.
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