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A Companion to the American Novel

Alfred Bendixen (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-118-22035-1 February 2012 Wiley-Blackwell 576 Pages


Featuring 37 essays by distinguished literary scholars, A Companion to the American Novel provides a comprehensive single-volume treatment of the development of the novel in the United States from the late 18th century to the present day.
  • Represents the most comprehensive single-volume introduction to this popular literary form currently available
  • Features 37 contributions from a wide range of distinguished literary scholars
  • Includes essays on topics and genres, historical overviews, and key individual works, including The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, Beloved, and many more.
Notes on Contributors ix

Preface xix

Acknowledgments xxi

A Chronology of the American Novel xxii

Part I: Historical Developments 1

1 The Development of the American Novel: The Transformations of Genre 3
Alfred Bendixen

2 The American Novel: Beginnings Through the American Renaissance 19
Maria Karafilis

3 The American Novel: Realism and Naturalism (1860-1920) 42
Jeanne Campbell Reesman

4 Modernism and the American Novel 60
Peter L. Hays

5 Beyond Modernism: The American Novel Between the World Wars 76
Alfred Bendixen

6 The Cold War Novel: The American Novel Between 1945-1970 90
Sharon Becker and Wendy Martin

7 The Novel in a Changing America: Multiculturalism and Other Issues (1970-Present) 109
Martha J. Cutter

Part II: Genres and Traditions 127

8 Fear, Ambiguity, and Transgression: The Gothic Novel in the United States 129
Charles L. Crow

9 The American Historical Romance: From James Fenimore Cooper and Nathaniel Hawthorne to Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, and E. L. Doctorow 147
Emily Miller Budick

10 Making This Whole Nation Feel: The Sentimental Novel in the United States 170
Marianne Noble

11 Social Protest, Reform, and the American Political Novel 187
Chip Rhodes

12 The American War Novel Tradition and the Individual Soldier 206
James H. Meredith

13 From the Sublime to the Ridiculous: Comic Traditions in the American Novel 218
Judith Yaross Lee

14 Plotting a Way Home: The Jewish American Novel 241
Derek Parker Royal

15 Chicano/a Traditions in the American Novel 259
Juan J. Alonzo

16 African American Traditions and the American Novel 274
Melvin Donalson

17 The American Novel of Mystery, Crime, and Detection 291
Leonard Cassuto

18 O Brave New Worlds: Science Fiction and the American Novel 309
Eric S. Rabkin

19 Dreaming of a White Future: Mary E. Bradley Lane, Edward Bellamy, and the Origins of the Utopian Novel in the United States 323
Jean Pfaelzer

20 Queer Theory and the American Novel 342
Deborah Carlin

21 The American Short-Story Cycle: Out From the Novel's Shadow 357
Robert M. Luscher

Part III: Major Texts 373

22 The Woman's Law in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter 375
Monika Elbert

23 Writ in Water: The Books of Melville's Moby-Dick 394
Wyn Kelley

24 Wonder of Wonders: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin 408
Susan Belasco

25 Citational Strategies and Literary Traditions: Placing Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady 422
Greg W. Zacharias

26 Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Child's Search for Comfort and Peace 443
Michael J. Kiskis

27 What Women Want: Kate Chopin's The Awakening 454
Emily Toth

28 Private Fleming's Various Battles: Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage 465
James Nagel

29 Lily's Story: Edith Wharton's House of Mirth 475
Kathy Fedorko

30 The Confessional Narration of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises 488
James Nagel

31 Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and the Myth of the Land 499
Richard Lehan

32 Ground Zero: Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury 510
Philip Weinstein

33 A Bigger Vision: Richard Wright's Native Son and the Great American Novel 525
Andrew Warnes

34 Our Invisible Man: The Aesthetic Genealogy of US Diversity 537
John Carlos Rowe

35 The Visionary Exuberance of Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March 554
Ben Siegel

36 The Flesh and the Word: Toni Morrison's Beloved 570
Valerie Smith

37 A Different Kind of Love Story: Cormac McCarthy's The Road 582
Olivia Carr Edenfield

Selected Readings in the Genres of the American Novel 598

Index 610

“In addition to the various groups of essays, the book features a substantial chronology of American novels (from 1752 to 2000) and a series of lists of representative works in some of the most important traditions and genres discussed.”  (Poetics Today, 1 May 2014)

“As a consolidation of prior scholarship and a spur to further investigation, it makes a meaningful and substantial contribution to the ongoing scholarly conversation about the American novel.”  (Review 19, 1 April 2013)

“Summing Up: Recommended.  Upper-division undergraduates and above.”  (Choice, 1 November 2012)

  • A comprehensive treatment of the development of the novel in the United States from 1780 to the present day.

  • Provides a historical overview, paying special attention to the interaction of cultural forces and aesthetic principles.

  • Illuminates the themes and techniques of an exceptionally broad range of genres, including the Gothic, science fiction, and detective writing.

  • Offers original interpretations of individual novels, drawing on the latest scholarship.

  • Includes remarks on the nature of the American novel by a wide range of writers, both living and dead.