464 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, appends., notes, bibl., index
Taste, Class, and the Novel, 1920-1960
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title
Despite the vigorous study of modern American fiction, today's readers are only familiar with a partial shelf of a vast library. Gordon Hutner describes the distorted, canonized history of the twentieth-century American novel as a record of modern classics insufficiently appreciated in their day but recuperated by scholars in order to shape the grand tradition of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner. In presenting literary history this way, Hutner argues, scholars have forgotten a rich treasury of realist novels that recount the story of the American middle-class's confrontation with modernity. Reading these novels now offers an extraordinary opportunity to witness debates about what kind of nation America would become and what place its newly dominant middle class would have--and, Hutner suggests, should also lead us to wonder how our own contemporary novels will be remembered.
"An interesting analysis of how the literary academy decides which books will be remembered."
--The Wall Street Journal
"No one who studies or teaches U.S. fiction should overlook this sharp, luminous book. . . . Hutner's brilliance as synthesizer, theorizer, and literary historian makes this study shine, as both a straight read and a reference tool."
--The National Review
"Hutner surveys four decades of American fiction from the viewpoint of the reading public and the mainstream critics of the time, and reveals just how shifts in the currents of critical tastes can leave many good works stranded and quickly forgotten."
"A legitimate corrective to the English department syllabus."
"The originality of this project and the avenues it opens for further comparative work are undeniable. Hutner's book promises to enliven work in modernist and American studies, recalibrating our sense not only of what America read but of why that reading matters."
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