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By Robert Paul Lamb

A better half to American Fiction, 1865-1914 is a groundbreaking choice of essays written by way of prime critics for a large viewers of students, scholars, and basic readers.

  • An quite broad-ranging and available Companion to the examine of yank fiction of the post-civil struggle interval and the early 20th century Brings jointly 29 essays via best students, each one of which offers a synthesis of the easiest learn and provides an unique perspective
  • Divided into sections on old traditions and genres, contexts and subject matters, and significant authors
  • Covers a mix of canonical and the non-canonical topics, authors, literatures, and important approaches
  • Explores leading edge themes, reminiscent of ecological literature and ecocriticism, children’s literature, and the impression of Darwin on fiction

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These transformations were gradually and unevenly underway during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in both western Europe and the United States. The crucial integer of modernity is the modern individual, characterized by limitless potential (rather than a fixed place in society), endowed with independent economic interests, and committed to emancipating herself and others from whatever would prevent them from exercising their human rights and furthering their interests. Modern individuals tend to seek self-knowledge in the service of selftransformation, be the transformation moral improvement, social climbing, or the acquisition of more flattering consumer goods.

Modernity’s reliance on scientific models of knowledge meant that the development of academic disciplines in the nineteenth century proceeded along strikingly scientific principles. During this period, anthropology, psychology, sociology, and a number of related humanistic disciplines were extricated from each other and installed in separate university departments whose disciplinary authority depended on their political disinterestedness. The joint constructions of society and the individual as objects of study that could be insulated from specifically political processes, actions, and convictions was taking place in tandem in the academic humanities and in realist fiction.

It is probably significant in this regard that the first more-or-less realist novel making use of an African American narrator and therefore inviting identification with a complex African American subjectivity was not written until 1912: James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (Boeckmann 2000: 175). The academic canon of late nineteenth-century novels developed first as a canon of realism, even though these works were later reinterpreted through the lens of romance (and in some cases then repositioned in relation to new understandings of realism).

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