Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture

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University of Chicago Press, Jul 15, 1977 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 336 pages
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In this first general theory for the analysis of popular literary formulas, John G. Cawelti reveals the artistry that underlies the best in formulaic literature. Cawelti discusses such seemingly diverse works as Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Dorothy Sayers's The Nine Tailors, and Owen Wister's The Virginian in the light of his hypotheses about the cultural function of formula literature. He describes the most important artistic characteristics of popular formula stories and the differences between this literature and that commonly labeled "high" or "serious" literature. He also defines the archetypal patterns of adventure, mystery, romance, melodrama, and fantasy, and offers a tentative account of their basis in human psychology.
 

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Contents

The Design of This Book
3
The Study of Literary Formulas
7
The Artistic Characteristics of Formula Literature
10
Formulas and Culture
22
Notes toward a Typology of Literary Formulas
39
Adventure
41
Romance
43
Mystery
44
The HardBoiled Detective Story
141
Patterns of the Formula
144
Cultural Background of the Formula
158
Hammett Chandler and Spillane
164
The Western A Look at the Evolution of a Formula
194
Cooper and the Beginnings of the Western Formula
196
Nick of the Woods and the Dime Novel
211
Wisters Virginian and the Modern Western
217

Melodrama
46
Alien Beings or States
49
The Mythology of Crime and Its Formulaic Embodiments
53
Elements of the New Formula
67
The Cultural Function of Popular Crime Formulas
78
The Formula of the Classical Detective Story
82
Cultural Background of the Formula
100
The Art of the Classical Detective Story
108
Christie and Sayers
113
The Art of Simenon
127
Detective Stories and Detection as an Element in Other Literary Genres
133
The Future of the Classical Detective Story
138
The Romantic Western of the 1920s
232
John Ford and Others
244
Current Trends in the Formula
254
The BestSelling Social Melodrama
262
The Aesthetic of Social Melodrama
265
The Evolution of Social Melodrama
270
Irving Wallace
286
Conclusion
298
Notes
305
Bibliographical Notes
321
Index
332
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