Nobody's Home: Speech, Self, and Place in American Fiction from Hawthorne to Delillo / Edition 1

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Nobody's Home is a bold view of the American novel from its beginnings to the contemporary scene. Focusing on some of the deepest instincts of American life and culture—individual liberty, freedom of speech, constructing a life—Arnold Weinstein brilliantly sketches the remarkable career of the American self in some of the major works of the past one hundred fifty years. Weinstein contends that American writers are haunted by the twin specters of the self as a mirage, as Nobody, and by the brutal forces of culture and ideology that deny selfhood to people on the basis of money, sex, and color of skin. His central thesis is that language makes possible freedoms and accomplishments that are achievable in no other realm, and that American fiction is a fascinating record of the human fight against coercion, of the kinds of maneuvering room that we may find in life and in art. This study is unique in several respects: it offers some of the keenest readings of major American texts that have ever been written, including some of the most significant works of the past decades, and it fashions a rich and supple view of the American novel as a writerly form of freedom, in sharp contrast to today's critical emphasis on blindness and co-option.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"New life is breathed into novels and stories which in most cases have been elaborately examined by a succession of earlier critics....Weinstein not only has a masterful command of the texts he deals with, but also of the criticism which has accumulated about them....Nobody's Home is a stimulating, ambitious book which fulfills virtually all one's expectations about how a comparatist should go about assessing a century and a half of American fiction."—Novel

"I deeply admire the care and craft inherent in Weinstein's 'close-grained analyses'; the author's almost unfashionable optimism is refreshing and, in most cases, tenable and cogent."—Z. Bart Thornton, The Kincaid School

"Weinstein reveals something I don't see much in scholarly criticism anymore—his own willingness to be impressed by what he reads. He then studies that impression with all the tools provided by contemporary theory, but the text at hand remains paramount. His readings have that esoteric freedom from dogma that is unfortunately rare these days. I'd recommend him to anyone—graduate or undergraduate."—Nelson Hathcock, Saint Xavier University

"A refreshingly clear, insightful, and useful reevaluation of literary works often taught."—Choice

"This book is, in one word, splendid. From Hawthorne's 'Wakefield' to Don DeLillo's novels this book illuminates everything it touches. Weinstein is simply superb on Hawthorne, Melville, Mark Twain, Anderson, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Hemingway."—James Cox, Dartmouth College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195080223
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/28/1993
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,508,920
  • Lexile: 1410L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Self-Making and Freedom of Speech 3
I Outcasts of the Universe
1 Hawthorne's "Wakefield" and the Art of Self-Possession 13
2 Melville: Knowing Bartleby 27
II Masters and Slaves
3 Stowe: Ghosting in Uncle Tom's Cabin 47
4 Twain: The Twinning Principle in Puddn'head Wilson 65
III The Village Modernists
5 Anderson: The Play of Winesburg, Ohio 91
6 Flannery O'Connor and the Art of Displacement 108
IV The American Modernists and Freedom of Speech
7 Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby: Fiction as Greatness 131
8 Faulkner's As I Lay Dying: The Voice from the Coffin 148
9 Faulkner: Fusion and Confusion in Light in August 170
10 Hemingway's Garden of Eden: The Final Combat Zone 189
V The American Postmodernists and Freedom of Speech
11 John Hawkes, Skin Trader 213
12 Robert Coover: Fiction as Fission 235
13 Dis-Membering and Re-Membering in Toni Morrison's Beloved 265
14 Don DeLillo: Rendering the Words of the Tribe 288
Conclusion 317
Notes 321
Index 343
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