Safe at Last in the Middle Years: The Invention of the Midlife Progress Novel: Saul Bellow, Margaret Drabble, Anne Tyler, and John Updike

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9780520062825: Safe at Last in the Middle Years: The Invention of the Midlife Progress Novel: Saul Bellow, Margaret Drabble, Anne Tyler, and John Updike

"Discovering the midlife progress novel, Gullette finds in recent fiction a pervasive tension between decline and a new ideology of aging. Appropriately, she invites the reader to join the writers in their therapeutic discourse." --Rosemary Franklin, American Literature.
 
"[This] book certainly makes you think. What is it that can happen in middle age to make it, as it is for many people, the clearest and sweetest time of life?" --Frank Conroy, The New York Times

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From the Inside Flap:

For many people today,disillusionment is the midlife plot: troubles compounded bylosses and ending in despair. Margaret Morganroth Gullette finds incontemporary fiction an alternative plot, one in which adult protagonists areultimately undaunted by their aging bodies, their inner weaknesses, theirresponsibility for their own lives, or the worst blows dealt them byfate. 
 
                   Using the works of Saul Bellow, Margaret Drabble,Anne Tyler, and John Updike, she reveals a genre that deals not with fear butwith desire, and not with youthful desire but with the wide range ofidiosyncratic midlife desires. She describes and analyzes a form of fictionthat resists and revises the traditional narrative of midlife decline. 
 
                   Inventing older characters who can be rewarded,progress novels show how they grow by responding to the challenges of ordinarylife: living with another person, raising children, individuating from spouseand parents. These characters have survived the "dangerous age" ofyoung adulthood to reconceive themselves in the middle years. 
 
                   Dr. Gullette highlights the gifts thataging has brought these characters: midlife resilience, personal power,fortitude, and gratitude for no longer being so young. . . . [F]or both womenand men, aging can feel like a cure.
 
          . . . Her sometimes startling observations also offerreaders skills they can use to reinterpret their own lives and ultimately telltheir own "safe-at-last" stories. Safe at Last boldlyencourages us to reappropriate for adult trials and goals the hopeful languagemost often employed to describe childhood or adolescent growth. Thisbrilliantly written book about the colliding ideologies of aging will fascinatescholars in many disciplines and readers of all ages. 

About the Author:

           An internationally known pioneer in age studies and one of the most influential cultural critics on middle ageism and ageism, Margaret Morganroth Gullette is also the author of the prize-winning nonfiction books, Agewise: Fighting the New Ageism in America and Declining to Decline: Cultural Combat and the Politics of the Midlife. Aged by Culture is taught in many courses, and quoted and discussed in age studies.              Her next book is called Ending Ageism, or How Not to Shoot Old People.              Gullette is a resident scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis.

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