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No Accident, Comrade Chance and Design in Cold War American Narratives,9780199354351

No Accident, Comrade Chance and Design in Cold War American Narratives

by
ISBN13:

9780199354351

ISBN10:
0199354359
Format:
Paperback
Pub. Date:
1/1/2014
Publisher(s):
Oxford University Press, USA
List Price: $31.95

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  • No Accident, Comrade : Chance and Design in Cold War American Narratives
    No Accident, Comrade : Chance and Design in Cold War American Narratives




Summary

No Accident, Comrade argues that chance became a complex yet conflicted cultural signifier during the Cold War, when a range of thinkers--politicians, novelists, historians, biologists, sociologists, and others--contended that totalitarianism denied the very existence and operation of chance in the world. They claimed that the USSR perpetrated a vast fiction on its population, a fiction amplified by the Soviet view that there is no such thing as chance or accident, only manifestations of historical law (hence the popular American refrain used to refer to Marxism: "It was no accident, Comrade").

By reading an expansive range of American novels published between 1947-2005, alongside nonfiction texts by the likes of Jerzy Kosinski, Daniel Bell, Ian Hacking, and mid-century game theorists, No Accident, Comrade explains how associations of chance with democratic freedom and the denial of chance with totalitarianism circulated in Cold War America. Chance became tied to the liberties of U.S. democracy, whereas its eradication or denial became symptomatic of Soviet tyranny. With works by Nabokov, Ellison, Pynchon, Didion, DeLillo, Colson Whitehead, and many others, Steven Belletto shows how writers developed innovative strategies for dealing with and incorporating these ever-present beliefs about chance and its role in their culture. These newly developed narrative techniques allowed them to theorize, satirize, and make sense of the constantly changing relationship between the individual and the state during a largely rhetorical conflict.

Author Biography


Steven Belletto is assistant professor of English and chair of the American Studies program at Lafayette College.


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