The Medievalist Impulse in American Literature: Twain, Adams, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway
Why has the medievalist impulse - as manifested in an attraction to the traditions of courtly love and chivalry - been ignored or marginalized in the context of American literature, especially given its prominence in studies of British literature? Which American writers manifest the medievalist impulse, whether textually or subtextually, consciously or unconsciously? How does the medievalist impulse affect their works? What does the existence of this impulse, in its various idiosyncratic manifestations, reveal about these writers and American culture?
Kim Moreland sets out to answer these and other questions, providing close readings of a variety of texts, both familiar and unfamiliar, while drawing eclectically on theoretical approaches such as feminism, deconstruction, cultural criticism, and psychobiography. She first demonstrates that the medievalist impulse permeates American literature and culture, then shows the tradition best represented by four writers: Mark Twain, Henry Adams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway. Their works reveal with particular power the various ways in which nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers appropriated the ideals of courtly love and chivalry as superior to the materialism of modern civilization at a time of radical change and social disruption.
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