Summer on the Lakes, in 1843
About the BookIn 1843 Margaret Fuller, already a well-established figure in the Transcendental circle of Emerson and Thoreau, traveled by train, steamboat, carriage, and on foot to make a roughly circular tour of the Great Lakes.
"Summer on the Lakes, in 1843 was Margaret Fuller's first original book-length work, the product of her journey through what was then considered the far western frontier in mid-nineteenth-century America. . . . [The book] is, at least in part, an intensely personal account of Fuller's own inner life during the summer of 1843. She shared with the Transcendentalists the belief that internal travel--what Emerson called travel within the mind--was the most significant kind of journey. Her travel away from New England to visit such places as Niagara Falls, Mackinac Island, and Rock River, Illinois, is symbolic of a larger journey that Fuller was making in her mind: her departure from Emersonian idealism and her subsequent revision of Transcendentalism. The result is a particularly rich form of autobiography. . . . Summer on the Lakes, in 1843 occupies a pivotal position in Margaret Fuller's development as a writer, a Transcendentalist, and a feminist. This portfolio of sketches, poems, stories, anecdotes, dialogues, reflections, and accounts of a leisurely journey to the Great Lakes is, at once, an external and an internal travelogue. Drawing on historical sources, contemporary travel books, and her own firsthand experience of life in prairie land, Fuller used the opportunity of visiting the frontier to meditate on the state of her own life and of life in America--both as they were and as she hoped they might become."--from the Introduction
About the AuthorMargaret Fuller, one of the earliest American feminists, edited the Dial and served on the staff of the New York Tribune. Susan Belasco Smith is a member of the English department at Allegheny College.
"Fuller gets directly to the essential spirit of the new land."--Babette Inglehart, Chicago State University