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The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

ISBN: 978-1-4051-6024-7
408 pages
February 2011, ©2010, Wiley-Blackwell
The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook (1405160241) cover image


This student-friendly handbook provides an engaging overview of American fiction over the twentieth century, with entries on the important historical contexts and central issues, as well as the major texts and writers.
  • Provides extensive coverage of short stories and short story writers as well as novels and novelists
  • Discusses the cultural contexts and issues that shape the texts and their reputations
  • Wide-ranging in scope, including science fiction and recent Native American writing
  • Featured writers range from Henry James and Theodore Dresier to Toni Morrison, Don DeLillo, and Sherman Alexie
  • Ideal student accompaniment to courses in Twentieth-Century American Literature or Fiction


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Table of Contents


How to Use This Book.

Chronology: Significant Dates and Events, 1900–2000.


Part 1 Historical Contexts.

The American Scene, c.1900.

Expatriates: 1920s and Beyond.

Charting the Depression: The 1930s.

Post-war Alienation, Experiment, and Alternatives.

Multicultural America: Borders, Tradition, and Identity.

Part 2 Major Writers.

Henry James (1843–1916).

Edith Wharton (1862–1937).

Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945).

Willa Cather (1873–1947).

Gertrude Stein (1874–1946).

Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951).

Raymond Chandler (1888–1959).

Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960).

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940).

John Dos Passos (1896–1970).

William Faulkner (1897–1962).

Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961).

Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977).

Thomas Wolfe (1900–1938).

John Steinbeck (1902–1968).

Nathanael West (1903–1940).

Richard Wright (1908–1960).

William S. Burroughs (1914–1997).

Saul Bellow (1915–2005).

Norman Mailer (1923–2007).

James Baldwin (1924–1987).

John Barth (b.1930).

Toni Morrison (b.1931).

John Updike (1932–2009).

Philip Roth (b.1933).

Don DeLillo (b.1936).

Thomas Pynchon (b.1937).

Joyce Carol Oates (b.1938).

Raymond Carver (1938–1988).

Louise Erdrich (b.1954).

Sherman Alexie (b.1966).

Part 3 Key Texts.

Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie (1900).

Henry James, The Wings of the Dove (1902).

Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905).

Willa Cather, My Antonia (1918).

Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio (1919).

Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1922).

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925).

Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time (1925).

William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929).

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).

Djuna Barnes, Nightwood (1937).

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Richard Wright, Native Son (1940).

J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951).

Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood (1952).

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952).

Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957).

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1958).

Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961).

William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch (1962).

Saul Bellow, Herzog (1964).

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966).

Philip Roth, Portnoy's Complaint (1969).

Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977).

Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982).

Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street (1984).

William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984).

Don DeLillo, White Noise (1985).

Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987).

Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club (1989).

Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses (1992).

Part 4 Themes.

Race and American Fiction.

The American Short Story.

Hollywood and American Fiction.

Women and Twentieth-Century American Fiction.

Guide to Further Reading.


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Author Information

Christopher MacGowan is Professor of English at the College of William and Mary, USA. His numerous publications include work on William Carlos Williams, Denise Levertov, Sherwood Anderson, Ford Madox Ford, and Vladimir Nabokov.
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"In this wonderful book, Christopher MacGowan combines a comprehensive survey of major trends and themes with a series of lucid and focussed essays on significant writers and texts. Offering a lively and deeply informed introduction to American fiction of the twentieth century, this is essential reading for students of the subject at any level, and for anyone else interested in learning more about a vital period in American literary history."
Richard Gray, University of Essex

"This is one of the very few indispensible companions to a huge and complex field. Its coverage of key writers and works is impressive."
David Seed, University of Liverpool

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