A Companion to Twentieth-Century United States Fiction by David Seed

By David Seed

Via a wide-ranging sequence of essays and suitable readings, A spouse to Twentieth-Century usa Fiction offers an summary of yankee fiction released because the end of the 1st international War.  * includes a wide-ranging sequence of essays by way of American, British, and eu experts in quite a few literary fields* Written in an approachable and available variety* Covers either vintage literary figures and modern novelists* presents wide feedback for extra studying on the finish of every essay

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In 1970, Bellow published a New York novel that is considerably more pessimistic than his earlier urban fiction, Mr. Sammler’s Planet. Its protagonist, Artur Sammler, is a seventy-four-year-old Jew of Polish descent who miraculously escaped murder during the Holocaust and has, when the novel opens, been living in New York City for over twenty years. As a young man, Sammler was a leading light in Polish intellectual circles, believing profoundly in European humanism. The Holocaust, however, taught him the vulnerability of even the most apparently indestructible cultures; and, in New York City, he is dismayed by the sheer foreignness of the city and by what he perceives as signs of the imminent collapse of American culture.

His narration conveys the immediacy of cinema verité without sacrificing essential depth. In the early stages of the novel he introduces a bewildering number of characters, some of whom will emerge as primary actors and some of whom will never reappear. In the text, the New York theatrical world images the city’s unique fascination. But a pervasive corruption underlies this surface excitement, a corruption that infects the novel’s female protagonist, Ellen Thatcher, and from which her male counterpart, Jimmy Herf, ultimately flees.

Motley’s hero is a young Italian American, Nick “Pretty Boy” Romano, who ultimately murders a policeman and in a last scene, like Bigger Thomas, is shown awaiting execution. Both protagonists are clearly victims of their oppressive environments. The City Novel 29 Chicago is one of the two cities most associated with Saul Bellow, the first of an important group of post-World War II Jewish American writers to achieve recognition. Bellow was actually born in Montreal, but his family moved to Chicago when he was nine years old and, in the Chicago setting of his third novel, The Adventures of Augie March (1953), he found his distinctive narrative voice.

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