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

Overview

Over the years, one of Americas most acclaimed novelists has quietly produced some of the best essays in the land. In these 16 reflections upon American texts, Doctorow shows us the hidden connections between our poets & our presidents, our classic literary works & the lyrics of popular songs, the ways of 19th-century New York & the way we live now. Each one carries with it the remarkable talents of the novelist & suggests that the proper practice of letters knows no bounds. This selection of ...
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Overview

Over the years, one of Americas most acclaimed novelists has quietly produced some of the best essays in the land. In these 16 reflections upon American texts, Doctorow shows us the hidden connections between our poets & our presidents, our classic literary works & the lyrics of popular songs, the ways of 19th-century New York & the way we live now. Each one carries with it the remarkable talents of the novelist & suggests that the proper practice of letters knows no bounds. This selection of essays is preeminently concerned with the character of America — who we are & why we are this way.
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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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780788162275
  • Publisher: DIANE Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/1/1999
  • Pages: 206

Meet the Author

E. L. Doctorow
E. L. Doctorow
Few writers have succeeded as E. L. Doctorow has at creating stories (largely based in 1930s New York) that evoke both warm, personal memory and a grander national portrait. Doctorow doesn't always promise historical veracity, but he captures our imagination of the past flawlessly.

Biography

E. L. Doctorow, one of America's preeminent authors, has received the National Book Critics Circle Award (twice), the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation For Fiction, and the William Dean Howells medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has also published a volume of selected essays Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution, and a play, Drinks Before Dinner, which was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival. He resides in New Rochelle, New York.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

Good To Know

Doctorow began his career as a reader for Columbia Pictures. He went on to work as an editor for New American Library in the early 1960s, and then served as chief editor at Dial Press from 1964 to 1969.

Critics assailed Doctorow for delivering a commencement address critical of President George W. Bush at Hofstra University in May 2004.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Edgar Lawrence Doctorow (full name; named for Edgar Allan Poe)
      Edgar Laurence Doctorow
    2. Hometown:
      Sag Harbor, New York, and New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 6, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      A.B., Kenyon College, 1952; postgraduate study, Columbia University, 1952-53
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

Introduction
Jack London and His Call of the Wild 1
Theodore Dreiser: Book One and Book Two 21
Ernest Hemingway, R.I.P. 39
Orwell's 1984 51
Ronald Reagan 71
Commencement 81
The Character of Presidents 91
The Beliefs of Writers 103
A Citizen Reads the Constitution 117
The Nineteenth New York 139
False Documents 149
Standards 165
James Wright at Kenyon 179
Two Waldens 199
Notes 205
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