Sacvan Bercovitch

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Bercovitch in 1982

Sacvan Bercovitch (4 October 19338 December 2014) was a Canadian literary and cultural critic who spent most of his life teaching and writing in the United States. During an academic career spanning five decades, he was considered to be one of the most influential and controversial figures of his generation in the emerging field of American studies.


  • Only "America," of all national designations, took on the combined force of eschatology and chauvinism. Many forms of nationalism have laid claims to a world-redeeming promise; many Christian sects have sought, in open or secret heresy, to find the sacred in the profane; many European Protestants have linked the soul’s journey and the way to wealth. But only the "American Way," of all modern symbologies, has managed to circumvent the contradictions inherent in these approaches. Of all symbols of identity, only "American" has succeeded in uniting nationality with universality, civic and spiritual selfhood, sacred and secular history, the country’s past and the paradise to be, in a single transcendent ideal.