Recovering American Literature

Shaw, Peter

Published by Ivan R. Dee, 1995
ISBN 10: 1566630959 / ISBN 13: 9781566630955
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Synopsis: American literary criticism has taken a turn for the worse, Peter Shaw argues. Led chiefly by academics in the service of one or another ideology, critics in the last three decades have systematically raided the great works of 19th-century American literature and virtually robbed them of their deepest meaning. To illustrate, Shaw considers the treatment meted out to five American classics: Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, now reduced to a woman's struggle against an oppressive male orthodoxy; Moby Dick, actually a parable of doomed capitalism; Billy Budd, a reinforcement of senseless authority; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, blind to racism, among other failings; and Henry James's The Bostonians, perhaps an attack on lesbianism but at least a bumbling excuse for a novel. Tracing the evolution of this vein of criticism, and quoting the critics who have brought us to today's warped interpretations, Shaw shows convincingly that these great American books—and their readers—have been robbed of their complex humanity, the stuff that has made them great literature. Recovering American Literature is a clarion call for the restoration of criticism unfettered by ideological blinders.

About the Author: Peter Shaw’s criticism has appeared in Partisan Review, Commentary, the American Scholar, and Virginia Quarterly Review. He has also written The Character of John Adams and The War Against the Intellect.

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Title: Recovering American Literature
Publisher: Ivan R. Dee
Publication Date: 1995
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Good

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