Dangerous Pilgrimages: Trans-Atlantic Mythologies and the Novel

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Since before Plato, the Old World has been inventing and refining its views and images of the New. And since explorers first called it into being, the New World has been looking back to the Old, borrowing its traditions to write new rules and distil truths that came to be self-evident. Within this cultural exchange between America and Europe, there has been what Malcolm Bradbury calls the "flourishing traffic in fancy, fantasy, dream and myth." And if there has always been a gap between image and reality, it has ...
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Overview

Since before Plato, the Old World has been inventing and refining its views and images of the New. And since explorers first called it into being, the New World has been looking back to the Old, borrowing its traditions to write new rules and distil truths that came to be self-evident. Within this cultural exchange between America and Europe, there has been what Malcolm Bradbury calls the "flourishing traffic in fancy, fantasy, dream and myth." And if there has always been a gap between image and reality, it has widened into rare entertainment - above all in the novel, a form that flourished as a result of the great transatlantic encounter. Malcolm Bradbury, who has been writing about various aspects of American and British literature for more than three decades, tracks this long-lived relationship and the accompanying myths with expert zest and enthusiasm. It is an exhilarating journey - from Chateaubriand's primeval America, crisscrossing the Atlantic to Henry James (who invented Paris) and Edith Wharton's focus on the American in Europe, to the European tours of America in the tradition of Evelyn Waugh (who invented postmodern L.A.) and Malcolm Lowry, to the contemporary "frequent flyer" novelists for whom both continents represents a kind of hyper-reality.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bradbury, an English novelist who seems to have spent a lifetime studying and enjoying what he calls trans-Atlantic fiction, shows how, from almost the very beginning of American literature, British and American novelists have influenced each other's work more than they might care to admit. And the influence has come not from aping style but from the myths traded back and forth about each other. Washington Irving, for example, spent much of his writing career abroad and, in his Sketch Book, created not only Rip Van Winkle but also cozy essays that established the American view of Merrie Olde England that exists even today. Dickens crossed the Atlantic in search of Utopia, and the reality he found, Bradbury says, made him a better writer. Among the other Americans Bradbury covers in detail are Cooper, Melville, Hawthorne, Twain, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway and James Baldwin. The Europeans include Trollope, Thackeray, Kipling, Waugh, Lawrence and such non-Brits as Chateaubriand and Nabokov. Also included are some autobiographical memories of Bradbury's own post-WWII adventures at the University of Indiana. The scholarship and critical observations throughout are impressive, but Bradbury's engaging personality is what makes the book a special pleasure. This is literary history at its best. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Bradbury (American studies, Univ. of East Anglia), the author of numerous works of criticism (e.g., The Modern British Novel, Viking, 1995) examines here the myths Europeans created about America and those Americans created about Europe. Beginning with James Fenimore Cooper and Ren de Chateaubriand, Bradbury examines the fiction of, among many others, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, D.H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Evelyn Waugh, and Vladimir Nabokov to show what these myths were, how they changed, and how they affected the form of the novel itself. Some readers may object to another study of white malesonly the women Frances Trollope and Gertrude Stein are discussed and African Americans Richard Wright and James Baldwin mentioned brieflybut this American-European symbiosis is significant, and Bradbury does not claim it is all of American culture. His well-written and -researched study seems directed primarily to an academic audience.Judy Mimken, Boise P.L., Id.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140243475
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/1/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Primeval Fields of Nature: Chateaubriand, Cooper and the transatlantic novel 14
2 Storied Associations: Washington Irving goes to Europe 53
3 Blowing up the 'Merrikins: Charles Dickens and the regeneration of man 84
4 The Rogue and the Detectives: Hawthorne, Melville and the European ruins 118
5 The Lighted Stage: Twain, James and the European shrine 158
6 Christmas at Brede: American realities, European romance 203
7 Dentists at Home: Gertrude Stein, D. H. Lawrence and the modern century 247
8 A Generation Lost and Found: Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the Paris of the Twenties 295
9 Down and Out in Paris and Mexico: Miller, Lowry and the low dishonest decade 359
10 Life Among the Ruins: Wilson, Waugh and the great Pax Americana 404
11 Frequent Flyers: Transatlantic fictions today 461
Index 489
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