In this Book

What America Read
buy this book Buy This Book in Print
summary
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 America's confrontation with modernity. Hutner explains that realist novels were frequently lauded when they first appeared. They are almost completely unread now, he contends, largely because they record the middle-class encounter with modern life. This middle-class realism, Hutner shows, reveals a surprising engagement with the social issues that most fully challenged readers in the United States, including race relations, politics, immigration, and sexuality. 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. In this manuscript, Gordon Hutner remembers novels written for middle class American readers during the period of 1920-1960, arguing that beloved works of mainstream fiction were cast aside by the literati to make room for the favored few works that comprise the canon of this period. By bringing forward the history of neglected works of fiction -- many of which won national awards, were argued over in editorials, and bought by thousands of readers--Hutner critiques the process of canonization that excluded works of middle class realism, pointing to factors of academic prejudice and class-based taste making. In this recovery project he finds that the excluded works of fiction, often decried as "potboiler" or "bourgeois," and against which literary critics defined their position, were especially concerned with the social disorientation facing the middle class during the time period and reveal a surprising engagement with issues of race, sexuality, and gender concerns. 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. 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 America's confrontation with modernity. Hutner explains that realist novels were frequently lauded when they first appeared. They are almost completely unread now, he contends, largely because they record the middle-class encounter with modern life. This middle-class realism, Hutner shows, reveals a surprising engagement with the social issues that most fully challenged readers in the United States, including race relations, politics, immigration, and sexuality. 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. 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.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-1
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. 2-7
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-xii
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-36
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. One: The 1920s
  2. pp. 37-116
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Two: The 1930s
  2. pp. 117-193
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Three: The 1940s
  2. pp. 194-268
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Four: The 1950s
  2. pp. 269-328
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Conclusion
  2. pp. 329-336
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Postscript
  2. pp. 337-346
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Notes
  2. pp. 347-364
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 365-424
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Index
  2. pp. 425-450
  3. restricted access Download |
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.