By Marguerite Young
Introduction by Mark Van Doren
Publication Date: 5/21/2024
Angel in the Forest is Marguerite Young's fascinating chronicle of two attempts to establish utopian communities in nineteenth-century America.
In it, she recounts the strange tale of New Harmony, Indiana, a community originally founded in 1814 by the German mystic Father George Rapp, who wanted to apply Scriptural communism to daily life in order to bring about the New Jerusalem. It was sold in 1825 to Robert Owen, the father of British socialism who, with a group of English immigrants, implemented his own theories for a perfect community, this time based on rationalism.
Both experiments failed, but Young finds in both a distinctively American yearning for utopia, which continues to characterize the American spirit to this day: a tradition of faith and folly can be traced from Owen's New Moral World to George Bush's New World Order.
Written with the same elegance, wit, and lyric beauty that distinguishes her fiction, Angel in the Forest was widely praised upon its first publication in 1945. This edition includes Mark Van Doren's introduction to Scribner's 1966 reprint.
“When a poet chooses to write history facts gain in power and in dimension. Young is a meticulous scholar, but she illumines every description and every character with her laser light of significance. Her facts radiate wit and irony and are incarnated in human beings.” —Anaïs Nin, Los Angeles Times
”One of my very treasured books . . . the best book I know on the subject of the early primitive religious cults. I hope it will get the attention it deserves.” —Katherine Anne Porter
Marguerite Young (1908-1995), born and reared in Indiana, moved to New York City in the 1940s, where she lived for the rest of her life. She is the author of two books of poetry, a collection of essays entitled Inviting the Muses, and two novels, Miss MacIntosh, My Darling (also a Dalkey Archive Essential) and Harp Song for a Radical.