What America Read: Taste, Class, and the Novel, 1920-1960

What America Read: Taste, Class, and the Novel, 1920-1960

by Gordon Hutner
     
 

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Despite the vigorous study of modern American fiction, today's readers are only familiar with a partial shelf of a vast library. Gordon Hutner describes the distorted, canonized history of the twentieth-century American novel as a record of modern classics insufficiently appreciated in their day but recuperated by scholars in order to shape the grand tradition of

Overview

Despite the vigorous study of modern American fiction, today's readers are only familiar with a partial shelf of a vast library. Gordon Hutner describes the distorted, canonized history of the twentieth-century American novel as a record of modern classics insufficiently appreciated in their day but recuperated by scholars in order to shape the grand tradition of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner. In presenting literary history this way, Hutner argues, scholars have forgotten a rich treasury of realist novels that recount the story of the American middle-class's confrontation with modernity. Reading these novels now offers an extraordinary opportunity to witness debates about what kind of nation America would become and what place its newly dominant middle class would have—and, Hutner suggests, should also lead us to wonder how our own contemporary novels will be remembered.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
No one who studies or teaches U.S. fiction should overlook this sharp, luminous book. . . . Hutner's brilliance as synthesizer, theorizer, and literary historian makes this study shine, as both a straight read and a reference tool.—Choice

Hutner exhibits skillful precision in advancing through this often misty and stony literary landscape. . . . [An] entertaining and comprehensive survey.—Publishing Research Quarterly

Hutner's study should begin a useful discussion about how we judge literature and just where the value of a novel lies.—The CEA Forum

The originality of this project and the avenues it opens for further comparative work are undeniable. Hutner's book promises to enliven work in modernist and American studies, recalibrating our sense not only of what America read but of why that reading matters.—Clio

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807832271
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
06/01/2009
Edition description:
1
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
In restoring to view the middle-class novels that chronicled Americans' multifaceted responses to modernity, Hutner is a master chronicler himself. His reclamation project—astutely directed at both criticism and fiction—enables us to recover a more accurate and a more democratic literary history than we have previously possessed.—Joan Shelley Rubin, University of Rochester, author of Songs of Ourselves: American Readers and the Uses of Verse

Meet the Author

Gordon Hutner is professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and founding editor of the journal American Literary History.

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