Romantic Postmodernism in American Fiction
Intended for teachers and students of American Literature, this book is the first comprehensive analysis of romantic tendencies in postmodernist American fiction. The book challenges the opinion expressed in the Columbia History of the American Novel (1991) and propagated by many influential scholars that the mainstream of postmodernist fiction is represented by the disjunctive and nihilistic work of such writers as Kathy Acker, Donald Barthelme, and Robert Coover. Professor Alsen disagrees. He contends that this kind of fiction is not read and taught much outside an isolated but powerful circle in the academic community. It is the two-part thesis of Professor Alsen's book that the mainstream of postmodernist fiction consists of the widely read work of the Nobel Prize laureates Saul Bellow and Toni Morrison and other similar writers and that this mainstream fiction is essentially romantic. To support his argument, Professor Alsen analyzes representative novels by Saul Bellow, J.D. Salinger, Norman Mailer, Flannery O'Connor, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, the later John Barth, Alice Walker, William Kennedy, and Paul Auster. Professor Alsen demonstrates that the traits which distinguish the fiction of the romantic postmodernists from the fiction of their disunctive and nihilist colleagues include a vision of life that is a form of philosophical idealism, an organic view of art, modes of storytelling that are reminiscent of the nineteenth-century romance, and such themes as the nature of sin or evil, the negative effects of technology on the soul, and the quest for transcendence.
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The Beginnings of Postmodernism in American Fiction 2536
The Manichean Pessimism
Toni Morrisons Song of Solomon
CUMULATIVE LIST OF WORKS CITED 280288
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Page 17 - The form is mechanic, when on any given material we impress a predetermined form, not necessarily arising out of the properties of the material, — as when to a mass of wet clay we give whatever shape we wish it to retain when hardened. The organic form, on the other hand, is innate; it shapes, as it develops, itself from within, and the fulness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form.
Page 16 - For poetry was all written before time was, and whenever we are so finely organized that we can penetrate into that region where the air is music, we hear those primal warblings and attempt to write them down, but we lose ever and anon a word or a verse and substitute something of our own, and thus miswrite the poem.
Page 16 - For it is not metres, but a metre-making argument that makes a poem — a thought so passionate and alive that like the spirit of a plant or an animal it has an architecture of its own, and adorns nature with a new thing.