Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution: Selected Essays, 1977-1992

Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution: Selected Essays, 1977-1992

by E. L. Doctorow
     
 

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The bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ragtime and Billy Bathgate has compiled his first collection of essays, a richly textured and detailed combination of literary criticism, political invective, and historical meditation.

Overview

The bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ragtime and Billy Bathgate has compiled his first collection of essays, a richly textured and detailed combination of literary criticism, political invective, and historical meditation.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The moral and political concerns that drive Doctorow's novels inform these 14 wholly engaging essays and reviews reprinted from the Nation , the New York Times Book Review , Harpers , etc. He presents masterful biographical-critical sketches of Jack London, ``our first writer-hero,'' who championed mutually exclusive ideas of democratic socialism and pseudoscientific racism; and Ernest Hemingway, whose unfinished novel The Garden of Eden arguably contains his most impressive heroine. Doctorow also illuminates Theodore Dreiser's moral vision, Thoreau's Walden , George Orwell's 1984 and poet James Wright, his undergraduate classmate at Kenyon from 1948 to 1952. His eloquent piece, ``A Citizen Reads the Constitution,'' taps that document's revolutionary democratic spirit. Elsewhere Doctorow faults the ``disastrous'' policies of Bush and Reagan, analyzes the emotive appeal of popular songs, excoriates apolitical novelists and plunges us into raw, cosmopolitan, riot-prone 19th-century New York City. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Doctorow ( Billy Bathgate ; Loon Lake ) declares that he prefers to write fiction over nonfiction, but he does the reader a great service by using ``his own voice'' in these 14 essays on literary, political, and historical topics. Highlights of the collection are an extraordinary essay on the subjectivity of fact as opposed to the visionary nature of fiction (``False Document''); a sort of deconstruction of the Constitution; and a speech dated 1989 that deals damningly with issues of the Reagan/Bush era. The latter may irritate some whose political beliefs are not in accord with those of the author, but Doctorow's eloquent articulation to a commencement audience of that administration's legacy is admirable. These essays are, without exception, well crafted, thought-provoking, and entertaining; highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/93.-- Janice Braun, Hoover Institution Lib., Stanford, Cal.
Booknews
An engaging collection of essays on literature and politics by the award-winning novelist, now affiliated with New York University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Alice Joyce
Doctorow's freethinking inclinations and eloquently noted concerns for the global universe illuminate diverse topics. He approaches the American literary tradition from various angles, looking at the men behind the classics. Dreiser's "Sister Carrie", London's "Call of the Wild", and the posthumous work of Hemingway all provide material for Doctorow's incisive and provocative views. But these essays are far more than a series of literary studies. Also included are a trenchant assessment of Reagan's presidency (taken from a commencement address by Doctorow) and additional commentary on the performance of other recent presidents. Whether Doctorow is reflecting on the Constitution's sacred status or looking back on James Wright at Kenyon College, the mind of a great humanist is apparent on every page.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307799777
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/27/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

E. L. Doctorow’s works of fiction include Welcome to Hard Times, The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, Billy Bathgate, The Waterworks, City of God, The March, Homer & Langley, and Andrew’s Brain. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle awards, two PEN/Faulkner awards, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, honoring a writer’s lifetime achievement in fiction, and in 2012 he won the PEN/ Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, given to an author whose “scale of achievement over a sustained career places him in the highest rank of American literature.” In 2013 the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the Gold Medal for Fiction. In 2014 he was honored with the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Sag Harbor, New York, and New York, New York
Date of Birth:
January 6, 1931
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
A.B., Kenyon College, 1952; postgraduate study, Columbia University, 1952-53
Website:
http://www.randomhouse.com/atrandom/doctorow/

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