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From a Modernist/Postmodernist perspective, this title addresses questions of literary and cultural nationalism. The authors reveal that since the seventeenth century, American writing has reflected the political and historical climate of its time and helped define America's cultural and social parameters. Above all, they argue that American literature has always been essentially 'modern', illustrating this with a broad range of texts: from Poe and Melville to Fitzgerald and Proud, to Wallace and Stevens, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Thomas Pynchon.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780140144352
ISBN-10: 0140144358
Format: Paperback
(199mm x 131mm x 23mm)
Pages: 480
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 25-Mar-1993
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » From Ruland (English and American Literature/Washington State Univ.) and critic-novelist Bradbury (The Modern World: Ten Great Writers; Unsent Letters - both 1988, etc.) - a sound, balanced account of how American writers created works that reflected "a new nation with new experience, a new science and a new politics on a new continent." Neither idiosyncratic nor iconoclastic, this introductory history is, though, sometimes excessively respectful toward the academically au courant. Ruland and Bradbury, an American and Englishman, respectively, nervously tip their hats to multiculturalism, and will leave their audience of general readers scratching their heads over why more attention is paid to the structuralists and deconstructionists than to luminaries like John Cheever, Thomas Wolfe, Edmund Wilson, H.L. Mencken, and Tennessee Williams. American theater (with the exception of Eugene O'Neill) is inexcusably slighted, while popular genres such as detective and science fiction are more understandably ignored. When it comes to the early development of American literature, however, the authors are on surer ground and perform ably. In tracing the transition from the allegorical mode of the Puritans to the symbolist mode of the American Literary Renaissance, they explore how "America became a testing place of language and narrative...part of a lasting endeavor to discover the intended nature and purpose of the New World." By examining authors in their historical as well as aesthetic context, they make a number of connections not commonly discussed (e.g., how Mark Twain and his contemporaries missed out on the combat experience in the Civil War). Despite its unwillingness to lance some academic sacred cows, then, this is a comprehensive, often vibrant history of how American writers declared independence from older European forms before making their own unique contributions to world literature. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Malcolm Bradbury

Malcolm Bradbury was a novelist, critic, television dramatist and Emeritus Professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia. He is author of the novels Eating People Is Wrong (1959); Stepping Westward (1965); The History Man (1975), which won the Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize and was adapted as a famous television series; Rates of Exchange (1983), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Cuts: A Very Short Novel (1987), also televised; and Doctor Criminale (1992).His critical works include The Modern American Novel (1984; revised edition, 1992), No, Not Bloomsbury (essays, 1987), The Modern World: Ten Great Writers (1988), The Modern British Novel (1993) and Dangerous Pilgrimages (1995).He has also edited Modernism (with James McFarlane, 1976), The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories (1988) and The Atlas of Literature (1997). He is the author of a collection of seven stories and nine parodies, entitled Who Do You Think You Are? (1976), and of several works of humour and satire, including Why Come to Slaka? (1986), Unsent Letters (1988; revised edition, 1995) and Mensonge (1987). Many of his books are published by Penguin. In addition, he has written many television plays and the television 'novels' The Gravy Train and The Gravy Train Goes East. He has also adapted several television series, including Tom Sharpe's Porterhouse Blue, Kingsley Amis's The Green Man and Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm.Malcolm Bradbury was awarded the CBE in 1991 and died in 2000. Richard Ruland is Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis.

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