Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. vii-ix

This book asks: How democratic is literature? And it answers: Barely at all, not politically. At least until recently. Which is where its strongest—or at any rate boldest—claims kick in. Literary history, I contend, is to be . . .

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One: Democracy Today

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pp. 1-13

Literature and democracy? It’s a topic that only a few years ago would have seemed remote from what was most urgent in the academic humanities. But the situation has changed. Democracy in particular solicits our attention. . . .

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Two: Reform or Refusal? Living in Democratic Capitalism

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pp. 14-36

Democracy’s authority, its charisma of legitimacy, is so overwhelmingly strong that it is diffi cult to see how we might stand outside it. Yet it is not as if radical and crippling criticism of contemporary democratic society is rare . . .

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Three: Conservatism and Critique

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pp. 37-57

Certain historical moments prophetically illuminate the future. One such moment occurred during the dark early days of World War II in Britain, when it seemed as if Nazi Germany were about to defeat Western liberal . . .

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Four: Literary Criticism’s Failure

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pp. 58-76

As I have suggested, up until World War II serious literature was inhospitable to democratization’s purposes and processes, at least in Europe. So too, as many scholars have noted, was literary criticism (see Asher 1995, . . .

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Five: The Literary Origins of Modern Democracy

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pp. 77-104

It was in the 1830s that it fi rst became clear that, come what may, democracy would ultimately triumph over its enemies. That was also the last decade in which it was still possible to think cogently of European . . .

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Six: Howards End’s Socialism

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pp. 105-122

E. M. Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End records the descent of the “angel of democracy” on Britain. In testifying to this annunciation, Forster was not just registering the social democratic state’s emergence but engaging the . . .

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Seven: Saul Bellow and the Antinomies of Democratic Experience

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pp. 123-148

To the academic literary critic, few writers offer greater challenges—and, I think, greater rewards—than Saul Bellow. That’s partly because he was one of us. For much of his career, he was a professor at the University of Chicago’s . . .

Notes

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pp. 149-157

Bibliography

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pp. 159-172

Index

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pp. 173-181