The pursuit of the American Dream, supposedly shaped by the edenic promises of the American land, has engaged our writers from the beginning, and much of our literature has come out of the national literary experience thus expressed. This collection of nineteen original, unpublished essays written for this book is particularly relevant today, when our collective field of vision seems obscured, and when the American Dream seems to have become a cliché, symbolic of the Dream defunct.
The nineteen critics here presented include, among others, Leslie Fiedler, Oscar Cargill, Maxwell Geismar, Jules Chametzky, Louis Filler, and Ihab Hassan. Most of them seem to agree with the view expressed by the majority of our best creative writers: that in pursuing the American Dream, America has created a nightmare.
Taken together, the nineteen essays provide a comprehensive view of American literature, past and present, as it has dealt with the Dream; but the emphasis is on modern works and present social, cultural, and political problems—poverty, war, and racism. Ten of the essays focus on such key works as Herman Melville’s “The Two Temples,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, William Faulkner’s “The Bear,” Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and Norman Mailer’s Why Are We in Vietnam?
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David Madden is Writer-in-Residence at Louisiana State University. He is the author of the recently published Poetic Image in Six Genres.Review:
“One of the year’s most bountiful university press offerings is American Dreams, American Nightmares... A collection of nineteen original essays written by top-seeded scholars, edited with an Introduction by David Madden.”—CEA Critic
“Nineteen excellent critical essays by well known scholars (Cargill, Fiedler, Geismar, Heilman, et al), all published here for the first time. Ten focus on specific works from Melville to Mailer, and nine discuss general aspects of the central theme, American Dreams... Recommended for all libraries.”—Choice
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Book Description Southern Illinois University Press, 1972. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M080930600X