In this Book

Godfather and American Culture, The
summary
Mario Puzo’s The Godfather is an American pop phenomenon whose driving force is reflected not only in book sales and cable television movie marathons but also in such related works as the hit television series The Sopranos. In The Godfather and American Culture, Chris Messenger offers an important and comprehensive study of this classic work of popular fiction and its hold on the American imagination. As Messenger shows, the Corleones have indeed become “our gang,” and we see our family business in America reflected in them. Examining The Godfather and its many incarnations within a variety of texts and contexts, Messenger also addresses Puzo’s inconsistent affiliation with his Italian heritage, his denial of the multiethnic literary subject, and his decades-long struggle for respect as a writer in contemporary America. The study ultimately offers a way of looking at the much-maligned genre of popular or bestselling fiction itself. By placing both the novel and films within a number of revealing critical situations, Messenger addresses the continuing problem of how we talk about elite and popular fiction in America—and what we mean when we take sides.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
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  1. Contents
  2. p. v
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. p. vii
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-16
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  1. Part I. Popular Fiction Criticism and American Careers
  2. pp. 17-18
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  1. Chapter One. Popular Fiction:Taste, Sentiment, and the Culture of Criticism
  2. pp. 19-50
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  1. Chapter Two: Mario Puzo: An American Writer’s Career
  2. pp. 51-84
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  1. Part II. Reading The Godfather: Critical Strategies and Theoretical Models
  2. pp. 85-86
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  1. Chapter Three: Bakhtin and Puzo: Authority as the Family Business
  2. pp. 87-106
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  1. Chapter Four: The Godfather and the Ethnic Ensemble
  2. pp. 107-148
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  1. Chapter Five: Barthes and Puzo:The Authority of the Signifier
  2. pp. 149-170
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  1. Part III. Positioning The Godfather in American Narrative Study
  2. pp. 171-172
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  1. Chapter Six. The Godfather and Melodrama: Authorizing the Corleones as American Heroes
  2. pp. 173-208
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  1. Chapter Seven. The Corleones as “Our Gang”: The Godfather Interrogated by Doctorow’s Ragtime
  2. pp. 209-228
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  1. Chapter Eight. The American Inadvertent Epic: The Godfather Copied
  2. pp. 229-252
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  1. Chapter Nine. The Godfather Sung by The Sopranos
  2. pp. 253-290
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  1. Conclusion
  2. pp. 291-298
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 299-316
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  1. Works Cited
  2. pp. 317-326
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 327-344
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