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Insanity as Redemption in Contemporary American Fiction: Inmates Running the Asylum

Lupack, Barbara Tepa

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ISBN 10: 0813013313 / ISBN 13: 9780813013312
Published by University Press of Florida, 1995
New Condition: New Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Insanity as Redemption in Contemporary ...

Publisher: University Press of Florida

Publication Date: 1995

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New

About this title

Synopsis:

Although madness is a popular theme in literature, contemporary American writers use that theme in a new and unfamiliar way, not just to convey the result of an unnerving or infuriating reality but also to comment on its hypocrisies.

 Barbara Tepa Lupack examines the cultural and literary contexts of five major works of contemporary fiction: Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (1961), Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962), Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Jerzy Kosinski's Being There (1971), and William Styron's Sophie's Choice (1979).  She shows that each book is complex, with deep roots in American political reality, and each portrays a protagonist who is mad or is considered to be mad--but who reveals a special insight into the dangers of social, political, and cultural conformity.  Each of these characters dwells in a sort of wasteland, ranging from the corrupt military base of Pianosa to the plastic suburb of Ilium, from the Nazi death camps to the ravaged Eternal City and bombed-out Dresden.  All seek confirmation of their authenticity, and all offer social and ethical remedies that challenge bureaucratic institutions--solutions that amount to inmates running the asylum.
 

Book Description:

"The first complete account of how five key novels of the 1960s and 1970s emerged from their culture; never before has a critic studied the context of their creation so thoroughly and with such insight."--Jerome Klinkowitz, University of Northern Iowa

"Incisive, sophisticated and accessible treatment of five major contemporary American novels. . . .  A significant addition to the body of literary and cultural criticism, providing a new focus and innumerable original perceptions about these works and, by extension, American literature and society since World War II."--Barry H. Leeds, Central Connecticut State University

Although madness is a popular theme in literature, contemporary American writers use that theme in a new and unfamiliar way, not just to convey the result of an unnerving or infuriating reality but also to comment on its hypocrisies.

 Barbara Tepa Lupack examines the cultural and literary contexts of five major works of contemporary fiction: Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (1961), Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962), Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Jerzy Kosinski's Being There (1971), and William Styron's Sophie's Choice (1979).  She shows that each book is complex, with deep roots in American political reality, and each portrays a protagonist who is mad or is considered to be mad--but who reveals a special insight into the dangers of social, political, and cultural conformity.  Each of these characters dwells in a sort of wasteland, ranging from the corrupt military base of Pianosa to the plastic suburb of Ilium, from the Nazi death camps to the ravaged Eternal City and bombed-out Dresden.  All seek confirmation of their authenticity, and all offer social and ethical remedies that challenge bureaucratic institutions--solutions that amount to inmates running the asylum.

 Lupack probes each novelist's life and public statements (in letters, interviews, and commentaries) and builds on earlier criticism of their works.  Authoritative enough for specialists in literature and American culture, Insanity as Redemption will also interest general readers. 

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