On Moral Fiction (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)

On Moral Fiction (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)

by John Gardner
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

On Moral Fiction set off a firestorm of controversy when it was first published in 1978. With a daring not obscured by the author’s extraordinary humaneness of spirit, the book argued that contemporary literature suffers first and foremost from a basic failure of the test of “morality.” By “moral fiction” the author meant

See more details below

Overview

On Moral Fiction set off a firestorm of controversy when it was first published in 1978. With a daring not obscured by the author’s extraordinary humaneness of spirit, the book argued that contemporary literature suffers first and foremost from a basic failure of the test of “morality.” By “moral fiction” the author meant fiction that attempts to test human values, not for the purpose of preaching or peddling a particular ideology or mode of conduct, but in a honest and open-minded effort to find out what best promotes human fulfillment. Such writing does so, as great artists beginning with Homer have always known, by the kind of analysis of characters and actions that brings both the writer and the reader to a fuller understanding, sympathy, and vision of human possibility. Because so much contemporary fiction fails to be moral in this sense, John Gardner argued, it undermines our experience of literature and our faith in ourselves.

This bold argument is driven forward as the author subjects the work of his most celebrated contemporaries, such as Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, John Updike, and Donald Barthelme to his sharp-eyed and relentless analysis. Although the last three decades have seen the rise of new generations of writers, and the ascendancy of postmodern modes of composition, On Moral Fiction still sets out the terms of a more ancient sense of the novelist’s calling. It is a salutary counterweight to prevailing trends.

Praise for On Moral Fiction:

 “On Moral Fiction is criticism with both eyes open, fearless, illuminating, proving that the concern of the critic is with art, that true art is moral and not trivial, that it and the discussion of it can give pleasure—of a sort that lasts and re-echoes.”— Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times
 

“Because Gardner’s anger is honest and wholesome, the criticism of his contemporaries never descends to mere vindictiveness or gossip.”—Max Apple, The Nation

“A thoughtful, amusing and arrogant little book, designed to pick fights."—Webster Schott, The Washington Post Book World

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781435107786
Publisher:
Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
06/25/2009
Series:
Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >