American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige, 1880-1995

American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige, 1880-1995

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Phillip Barrish
Cambridge University Press, 05/04/2001
EAN 9780521782210, ISBN10: 052178221X

Paperback, 223 pages, 23 x 15.8 x 1.8 cm

Focusing on key works of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literary realism, Phillip Barrish traces the emergence of new ways of gaining intellectual prestige - that is, new ways of gaining cultural recognition as unusually intelligent, sensitive or even wise. Through extended readings of works by Henry James, William Dean Howells, Abraham Cahan and Edith Wharton, Barrish emphasises the differences between literary realist modes of intellectual and cultural authority and those associated with the rise of the social sciences. In doing so, he greatly refines our understanding of the complex relationship between realist writing and masculinity. Barrish further argues that understanding the dynamics of intellectual status in realist literature provides new analytic purchase on intellectual prestige in recent critical theory. Here he focuses on such figures as Lionel Trilling, Paul de Man, John Guillory and Judith Butler.

"...the words `dazzling' and `moving' to describe Barrish's interpretations partly beacause they had the cumulative effect of exerting, on this reader, their own `cognitive and emotional power.' The acute and layered analyses he refers to simply as `detailedly attentive readings' produced a realer American realism." South Central Review

"inventive and fresh." Modern Fiction Studies

"an important and impressive book." Studies in American Fiction

"a provocative book." American Literary Realism

"intriguing and original." The Henry James Review

"the author offers a fresh perspective of William Dean Howell, Henry James, Abraham Cahan, and Edith Wharton." CHOICE Jan 2002

"...a sensitive, often intriguing study." MFS

"[Barrish's] prose is ...elegant, layered, and worth a second reading.... It should be an influential book in the ongoing debate about what `really matters' in literary-critical studies." Novel