Sporting with the Gods: The Rhetoric of Play and Game in American Literature

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Sporting with the Gods examines the metaphors of play, game, and sport as they are reflected in American literature and culture. The race for salvation and success, the great games of business and politics, the distinctive American version of fair play, the desperate game against an all-powerful opponent and the cruelties of chance and fate by which man becomes the sport of the gods--all of these metaphors touch fundamental American beliefs about fate and freedom, competition and chance, finitude and possibility. The book traces the cultural history of these metaphors primarily through American literary texts from Cooper and Hawthorne to Updike and Mailer but also through a wide range of nonliterary writings sermons, dime novels, success writing, countercultural manifestos, political rhetoric, etc. The result is a unique cultural history of America, from its inception to the present.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a massive work, its sweep is majestic. It attempts nothing less than a reading of the past two centuries of American life through the metaphor of life as a game." Norman K. Denzin, American Journal of Sociology

"...we now have the play-game critical text that will become standard in American culture study. Oriard dazzles the reader with play's suppleness and scope." Christian K. Messenger, American Historical Review

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface; Prologue: 'The game and the nation'; Part I. Sportsmen and Gamesmen in the Nineteenth Century: 1. Play, sport and western mythmaking; 2. Play, sport and southern honour; 3. Gender and the game; Part II. Raising the Stakes: 4. Playing the game of life; 5. 'The game' in business fiction; 6. Desperate players and the sport of the gods; Part III. Twentieth-Century Legacies: 7. Sportsmen and gamesmen in twentieth-century fiction; 8. In the wake of Moby-Dick; 9. The 'great games' of politics and business; Part IV. Holy Play and the Counterculture: 10. Transcendental play and the theology of sentimentalism; 11. Play and the counterculture in the 1920s; 12. From beats and hippies to the new age; Epilogue; Notes; Index.

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