Seeking the Perfect Game: Baseball in American Literature

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In this comprehensive study of baseball in American literature, Candelaria looks primarily at novels to explore how writers have used this quintessential American symbol and to examine what the metaphors and images of the fictional universe of baseball have to tell us about ourselves. Her analysis includes both juvenile and adult sports fiction and other types of literary works that draw significantly on baseball imagery. Candelaria offers a probing analysis of the progression from allegory and romanticism in the...

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Overview

In this comprehensive study of baseball in American literature, Candelaria looks primarily at novels to explore how writers have used this quintessential American symbol and to examine what the metaphors and images of the fictional universe of baseball have to tell us about ourselves. Her analysis includes both juvenile and adult sports fiction and other types of literary works that draw significantly on baseball imagery. Candelaria offers a probing analysis of the progression from allegory and romanticism in the earliest baseball fiction to the realism, irony, and solipsism of contemporary narrative.

Candelaria examines the origins and folklore of baseball, the development of its mythic status as the national game or pastime, as well as early literary treatments. Baseball soon emerged as a romantic and heroic metaphor in juvenile and pulp fiction and as a vehicle for ironic comedy in the work of Ring Lardner and other writers of the early decades of the twentieth century. Allusions to baseball in works by such literary masters as Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, and Ernest Hemingway emphasize the symbolic dimensions of the game, and its mythic possibilities have been fully exploited by more recent writers, notably Bernard Malamud in The Natural and Philip Roth in The Great American Novel. Increasingly complex levels of abstraction are characteristic of the baseball fiction of Philip Roth, Mark Harris, Jay Neugeboren, John Graham Alexander, and Robert Coover. Candelaria offers a probing analysis of the progression from allegory and romanticism in the earliest baseball fiction to the realism, irony, and solipsism of contemporary narratives. A stimulating work of literary and cultural criticism, this book will appeal to students and scholars of American literature, popular culture, American studies, and physical education, as well as to baseball enthusiasts.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

CORDELIA CANDELARIA is Associate Professor of English and Chicano Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Baseball from Ritual to Fiction

Emergence of a Metaphor

Literary Fungoes

Educing the Myth

Establishing the Metonym

Baseball Fiction, the Perfect Game

Bibliography

Index

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