American Small-Town Fiction, 1940-1960: A Critical Study

American Small-Town Fiction, 1940-1960: A Critical Study

by Nathanael T. Booth


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In literature and popular culture, small town America is often idealized as distilling the national spirit. Does the myth of the small town conceal deep-seated reactionary tendencies or does it contain the basis of a national re-imagining?
During the period between 1940 and 1960, America underwent a great shift in self-mythologizing that can be charted through representations of small towns. Authors like Henry Bellamann and Grace Metalious continued the tradition of Sherwood Anderson in showing the small town—by extension, America itself—profoundly warping the souls of its citizens. Meanwhile, Ray Bradbury, Toshio Mori and Ross Lockridge, Jr., sought to identify the small town’s potential for growth, away from the shadows cast by World War II toward a more inclusive, democratic future. Examined together, these works are key to understanding how mid–20th century America refashioned itself in light of a new postwar order, and how the literary small town both obscures and reveals contradictions at the heart of the American experience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476672748
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date: 03/13/2019
Pages: 217
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Nathanael T. Booth is a lecturer at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Preface 1

Introduction 5

One Columbus on the Platform: The Train Station 25

Two “The Crisis of Individuation”: The Schoolhouse 42

Three The ­Small-Town Bildungsroman: The Malt Shop 61

Four No Town Is an Island: Main Street and the Town Square 82

Five False Transcendence: The Movie Theater 98

Six Good God, Bad God: The Church 114

Seven Fortunate Fall: The Courthouse 135

Eight Transcending Division: The Outskirts 152

Nine In This Garden of Death: The Graveyard 175

Epilogue: The Train, Again 185

Chapter Notes 191

Bibliography 201

Index 207

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