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Reading the American Novel 1920-2010,9780631230670
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Reading the American Novel 1920-2010



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This is the 1st edition with a publication date of 6/10/2013.
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This astute guide to the literary achievements of American novelists in the twentieth century places their work in its historical context and offers detailed analyses of landmark novels based on a clearly laid out set of tools for analyzing narrative form.

  • Includes a valuable overview of twentieth- and early twenty-first century American literary history
  • Provides analyses of numerous core texts including The Great Gatsby, Invisible Man, The Sound and the Fury, The Crying of Lot 49 and Freedom
  • Relates these individual novels to the broader artistic movements of modernism and postmodernism
  • Explains and applies key principles of rhetorical reading
  • Includes numerous cross-novel comparisons and contrasts 



Author Biography

James Phelan is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of English at Ohio State University, USA. His wide-ranging research in narrative theory includes influential studies of literary character, narrative progression, unreliable narration, and the ethics of reading as well as significant fresh interpretations of numerous twentieth-century American and British novels and short stories. The editor of Narrative, the journal International Society for the Study of Narrative, Prof Phelan is also a prolific author and editor whose credits include the prize-winning Living to Tell about It: A Rhetoric and Ethics of Character Narration (2005), the Blackwell Companion to Narrative Theory (2005) and the collaboratively written Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates (2012).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Reading the American Novel, 1920–2010 1

1 Principles of Rhetorical Reading 23

2 The Age of Innocence (1920): Bildung and the Ethics of Desire 39

3 The Great Gatsby (1925): Character Narration, Temporal Order, and Tragedy 61

4 A Farewell to Arms (1929): Bildung, Tragedy, and the Rhetoric of Voice 85

5 The Sound and the Fury (1929): Portrait Narrative as Tragedy 105

6 Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937): Bildung and the Rhetoric and Politics of Voice 127

7 Invisible Man (1952): Bildung, Politics, and Rhetorical Design 149

8 Lolita (1955): The Ethics of the Telling and the Ethics of the Told 171

9 The Crying of Lot 49 (1966): Mimetic Protagonist,
Thematic–Synthetic Storyworld 193

10 Beloved (1987): Sethe’s Choice and Morrison’s Ethical Challenge 213

11 Freedom (2010): Realism after Postmodernism 237

Index 261

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