That what had happened to me was common to a whole generation of writers in
the thirties . ... What is compelling in Roth ' s remarks is not his eagerness to
discover some general laws governing the crack - up of writers in the United
States . ... It is indeed a peculiarly American mystique he adopts , the notion
which assumes the rightest possible fusion between the lifeblood of American
culture and the ...
Author: William Wasserstrom
Publisher: Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press
Category: Literary Criticism
In firm agreement with Henry Steele Commager's observation that ?Henry Adams illuminates, better than any of his contemporaries,” the course of American history, William Wasserstrom appraises the force of Adams's mind in styling, dramatizing, and embodying a postmodern myth of disintegration and chaos. Focusing on Adams and analyzing literature that reviews the myth of disintegration, Wasserstrom records the decline of the doctrine of perfectability as a critical feature of national sensibility. This he sees as a central trait shared by generations of writers who characteristically associated their private aspirations as artists with the American dream. Through literary and cultural history he inquires into the character of a society whose leading writers identify their personal fates with the progress of civilization in the United States. Wasserstrom explores the fiction of Irving, Cooper, Hawthorne, Stowe, Howells, Henry James, William James, Stephen Crane, Henry Adams, Eugene O'Neill, D. H. Lawrence, Stein, Fitzgerald, William Carlos Williams, and Kenneth Burke.