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In the mid-19th Century writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville produced works of fiction that even today, centuries later, help to define what American literature means. In this work of innovative literary history, Jonathan Arac explains what made this remarkable creativity possible and what it accomplished. His work also delves into a deep paradox that has haunted American literature: our nation's great works of literary narrative place themselves at a tense distance from our national life. Arac prepares the way with substantial critical readings of masterpieces such as Moby-Dick, The Scarlet Letter, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the Narrative of Frederick Douglass, as well as astute commentary on dozens of other works of fiction, comic sketches, life testimony and history. His interpretation demonstrates how the national crisis over slavery around 1850 led writers to invent new forms. In light of this analysis, Arac proposes an explanation for the shifting relations between prose narratives and American political history; he shows how these new works changed the understanding of what prose narrative was capable of doing - and how this moment when the literary writer was redefined as an artist inaugurated a continuing crisis in the relation of narrative to its public.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674018693
ISBN-10: 0674018699
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 140mm x 17mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 22-Nov-2005
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Jonathan Arac

Jonathan Arac is Orlando Harriman, Class of 1835, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and Chair of the department, Columbia University.

Books By Author Jonathan Arac

Consequences of Theory by Jonathan Arac

Consequences of Theory

Paperback, September 1990
$48.59
Commissioned Spirits by Jonathan Arac

Commissioned Spirits

Paperback, November 1989
$53.99