A Brief History of American Literature
A Brief History of American Literature offers students and general readers a concise and up-to-date history of the full range of American writing from its origins until the present day. Represents the only up-to-date concise history of American literature Covers fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction, as well as looking at other forms of literature including folktales, spirituals, the detective story, the thriller and science fiction Considers how our understanding of American literature has changed over the past twenty years Offers students an abridged version of History of American Literature, a book widely considered the standard survey text Provides an invaluable introduction to the subject for students of American literature, American studies and all those interested in the literature and culture of the United States
Preface and Acknowledgments ix 1 The First Americans: American Literature During the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods 1 Imagining Eden 1 Writing of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods 1 2 Inventing Americas: The Making of American Literature 1800–1865 47 Making a Nation 47 The Making of American Myths 47 The Making of American Selves 59 The Making of Many Americas 71 The Making of an American Fiction and Poetry 90 3 Reconstructing the Past, Reimagining the Future: The Development of American Literature 1865–1900 115 Rebuilding a Nation 115 The Development of Literary Regionalisms 115 The Development of Literary Realism and Naturalism 130 The Development of Women’s Writing 143 The Development of Many Americas 148 4 Making It New: The Emergence of Modern American Literature 1900–1945 159 Changing National Identities 159 Between Victorianism and Modernism 159 The Inventions of Modernism 176 Traditionalism, Politics, and Prophecy 211 Community and Identity 226 Mass Culture and the Writer 242 5 Negotiating the American Century: American Literature since 1945 249 Towards a Transnational Nation 249 Formalists and Confessionals 249 Public and Private Histories 263 Beats, Prophets, and Aesthetes 281 The Art and Politics of Race 296 Realism and Its Discontents 314 Language and Genre 328 Creating New Americas 345 Index 373
Richard Gray is Professor of Literature at the University of Essex and former Distinguished Visiting Professor at a number of universities in the United States. He is the first specialist in American literature to be elected a Fellow of the British Academy and has published over a dozen books on the topic, including the award-winning Writing the South (Ideas of an American Region (1986) and The Life of William Faulkner: A Critical Biography (1944). His History of American Literature is widely considered to be one of the standard works on the subject.
Written in an informed and accessible by one of the leading authorities in the field, A Brief History of American Literature offers students and general readers alike a concise and thoroughly up-to-date history of the American literary tradition from its origins to the present day. While focusing on the full range of fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction that has been incorporated into the mainstream literary canon, Richard Gray also considers the contribution from several other popular American literary traditions, including oral literature, folktales, spirituals, Westerns, detective stories, thrillers, and science fiction. Featured writers include Melville, Twain, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Pound, Eliot, and the works of these major American novelists and poets are discussed in the context of American social and cultural history. Consideration is also given to the myriad ways in which our understanding of American literature has evolved over the past twenty years. Compelling and authoritative, A Brief History of American Literaturewill prove an invaluable introduction to the full breadth and diversity of the American literary tradition.
"This is a wonderful book. Writing in an elegantly accessible style, Richard Gray offers the reader a truly comprehensive narrative of American literature from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries. The entire range, diversity, and richness of American writing are made available here in a single, superbly authoritative volume." —Andrew Hook, University of Glasgow "Drawing upon a lifetime of reading and research in this field, and covering a huge range of material from the Bay Psalm Book to Walter Mosley, Richard Gray's Literature of the United States offers an excellent survey that holds the American cultural tradition in a compelling, synoptic whole." —Paul Giles, University of Sydney "Richard Gray's A Brief History of American Literature is an extraordinary achievement. Gray offers us a fascinating and nuanced overview of United States writing, employing literary sensibility to examine a range of periods and genres." —Susan Castillo, King's College, London
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