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The Dream of the Great American Novel

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$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674659896

Publication Date: 05/09/2016


584 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Belknap Press


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  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction
      • The Plan of the Book
      • Just How “American” Is the GAN Idea?
      • Why Now?
  • I. The Unkillable Dream
    • 1. Birth, Heyday, and Seeming Decline
      • The Birth of the Dream
      • Defining the Terms, Somewhat
      • Monumentalism and Mockery: Dos Passos, Stein, and Others
    • 2. Reborn from the Critical Ashes
      • Critical Professionalism and Paradigm Change
      • The Dream of the Great American Novel Miraculously Survives Its Discreditation
      • Chaos Configured? Morrison and Updike as Great American Novelists
  • II. Script One: Made Classic by Retelling
    • 3. The Reluctant Master Text: The Making and Remakings of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
      • Hawthorne as a Nonnational Writer
      • Provincial Discontent: Hawthorne’s Arts of Entrapment
      • Imagining Euro-Atlantic Diaspora: New England Derealized
      • Great American Novel Despite Itself: The Retellings
  • III. Script Two: Aspiration in America
    • Introduction. American Dreamers in Context
    • 4. “Success” Stories from Franklin to the Dawn of Modernism
      • American Dilemma: Uneven Development of Early Fictions of Development
      • (Mis)Making Men: The Franklin Legend as Model and as Target
      • Women’s Up-From Stories: Antebellum to Wharton
    • 5. Belated Ascendancy: Fitzgerald to Faulkner, Dreiser to Wright and Bellow
      • Double Helix: An American Tragedy and The Great Gatsby
      • Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Beyond: Americanization of Observer-Hero Narrative
      • Dreiser, Wright, Bellow, and the Ethnic Turn in Up-From Narrative
    • 6. Up-From Narrative in Hyphenated America: Ellison, Roth, and Beyond
      • Ellison’s Invisible Man as Literary Event
      • Surpassing a Classic Benchmark: Invisible Man versus Huckleberry Finn
      • Ellison to Neo-slave Narrative and Beyond
      • Roth’s American Trilogy: American Pastoral as Success Story “Undone”
      • The Way We Live Now?
  • IV. Script Three: Romancing the Divides
    • Introduction. Shifting Ratios, Dangerous Proximities
    • 7. Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Its Aftermaths
      • “The Greatest Book of Its Kind”
      • Self-Revision: Stowe’s Dred
      • North–South Divide Romances before and against Stowe
      • What Can Reform Fiction Do as Encore? Nineteenth-Century Novels after Stowe
    • 8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Its Others
      • Comedy as a Substitute for Politics
      • Unperceived Rivals: Cable’s The Grandissimes, Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition
    • 9. Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, and Literary Interracialism North and South
      • Burning the House Down: Absalom, Absalom!
      • Recouping Tara: Gone with the Wind
      • Mirrors of Miscegenation for the Civil Rights Era and Beyond
    • 10. Morrison’s Beloved as Culmination and Augury
      • Reinventing Tales White and Black
      • Refiguring the Divides
      • Afro-Atlantic Diasporic Imagination
      • Other Divides, Other Diasporas
  • V. Script Four: Improbable Communities
    • Introduction. Fatalisms of the Multitude
    • 11. Moby-Dick: From Oblivion to Great American Novel
      • First Lowering: Some Basic Terms of Engagement
      • Ahab, Ishmael, Melville
      • The Crew as Global Village and/or “Democratic” Microcosm
      • Moby-Dick as Cultural Icon
    • 12. The Great American Novel of Twentieth-Century Breakdown: Dos Passos’s U.S.A.—or Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath?
      • Novelistic Architecture: Collective Fiction in the Machine Age
      • Democracy Derailed: The Fate of the Working Classes
      • Opinion Management
      • The Steinbeck Alternative
    • 13. Late Twentieth-Century Maximalism: Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow—and Its Rainbow
      • Melville, Dos Passos, Pynchon
      • Plotlines
      • American Genesis of the Modern Rocket State
      • Mad Captains and Whale Rockets
      • Apocalypse When?
      • After Pynchon: DeLillo, Wallace, Vollmann
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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