In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

264Reviews partisan judgment—the most faithful to sports on the one hand and to literature on the other. It is the only one of the three books which attempts more than superficially to define sport and the spirit of play. It is the only one of the three which resists the temptation to use the literal) text as evidence for a broader argument. Messenger, too, is a categorizcr, but his triad—popular sports hero, school sports hero, ritual sports hero—is certainly more modest and probably more useful than the subdivided trinity of Apollo, Dionysos, and Adonis. Like Oriard, Messenger rightly stresses the fact that the books lie discusses arcaspects of American culture: The Popular Sports Hero in fiction began as a frontier roarer in the mid-nineteenth-century Davy Crockett-Mike Fink almanacs and as an athlete, gambler, or trickster in Southwestern Humor sketches. He evolved into the modern professional athlete of organized sport who was first identified in print by journalists and dime novelists. The Popular Sports Hero was finally best portrayed by Ring Lardner, who had codified a literary formulaic hero by 1920. As a literary character, the Popular Sports Hero had to be amended from generation to generation to reflect the influences of the frontier, the industrial organization of urban life, and the birth of professional sport (p. 59). These are preliminary generalizations. The chapter which follows, "Sport and the Frontier," discusses Davy Crockett and Mike Fink, Longstreet's Ransy Sniffle, and Hooper's Simon Suggs. The discussion is deft and succinct. More complex authors, like Hawthorne and Fitzgerald, receive more extended analyses, which is as it should be. Indeed, although Messenger too comments on boys' books (Patten, Barbour, Johnson, et al), the last third of his book is devoted to only two writers, Hemingway and Faulkner. I am not wholly satisfied with Messenger's achievement. I would like more on the cynical cyclists of the commercialized (and fixed) Tour du Pays Basque whom Jake Barnes confronts after he has witnessed the ritualized heroism of Pedro Romero, but I am as impressed with the book as when I urged his publisher to publish it. Amherst CollegeAllen Guttmann Nadeau, Robert. Readings from the New Book on Nature: Physics and Metaphysics in the Modern Novel. Amherst: The Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1981. 213 pp. Cloth: $17.50. Robert Nadeau's study of the impact of the new, post-Einsteinean physics upon the Anglo-American novel since the fifties is a useful addition to a growing list of books connecting modernist thought and modernist literature. Tony Tanner's City of Words, (1971), Ihab Hassan's Parucriticisms (1975) and The Right Promethean Fire (1980), as well as my own The Exploded Form: The Modernist Novel in America (1980), are other recent studies on this subject. But where Tanner focuses on issues of language primarily as they emerge from modernist philosophy, and Hassan is most interested in speculating upon the future direction of our current metaphysical assumptions, Nadeau is mainly concerned to show the backgrounds in relativity physics of the metaphysical preoccupations of such contemporary writers as John Fowles, John Barth, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Thomas Pynchon, Tom Robbins, and Don DeLiIIo, on each ofwhom he provides a chapter. These chapters are interesting in themselves, but on the genre the most instructive are the two introductorv ones. Studies in American Fiction265 In the first Nadeau attempts to show how the new physics undermined "the metaphysical foundations of Newtonian physics" (p. 19). Nadeau points out that our conventional notions of a common-sense reality are based upon assumptions about substance, identity, cause and effect, and number dating back to the Greeks. "When Newton set to work fashioning his own idea of nature," says Nadeau, "the metaphysical assumptions about the character of physical reality originating in Greek philosophy were so basic to the construction of the symbolic universe in the West that no sane person would even dream of openly questioning them (p. 33). Though Newton's science would inevitably lead to the destruction of the old metaphysical assumptions of unity, cause and effect, and cpistemological certainty, Newton himself persisted in believing in the old assumptions, for the traditional dualism of self...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 264-266
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.