Reminiscence and Re-creation in Contemporary American Fiction

Reminiscence and Re-creation in Contemporary American Fiction

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Stacey Olster
Cambridge University Press, 6/8/1989
EAN 9780521363839, ISBN10: 0521363837

Hardcover, 232 pages, 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.7 cm
Language: English

Post-modernist fiction apparently presents a world of chance and randomness, devoid of historical intelligibility. Focusing on American post-modernist writers, Stacey Olster offers a challenge to this perception, showing how the experience of political and historical events has shaped the novelist's perspective. Communism after World War II proved particularly instrumental in this capacity; the failure of the Communist ideal in Russia forced a change in the literary perspective of history during the 1950s. Olster analyzes in detail historical narrative configurations in the works of a pivotal group of writers. Norman Mailer, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Robert Coover and E. L. Doctorow share a common vision of historical movement in the shape of an open-ended spiral. The modes of temporal movement constructed by these authors manage to recall an early Puritan prototype while remaining nonapocalyptic in direction.

1. A disruption of sensibility
2. The transition to post-Modernism
Norman Mailer and a new frontier in fiction
3. Thomas Pynchon
an interface of history and science
4. John Barth
Clio as kin to Calliope
'subjective historicism'

"...Olster's study deserves to be praised for its clarity and precision." Michael Trussler, The Journal of American History

"In an excellent critical study of the relationship between American literature and American history, Stacey Olster offers an illuminating apologia for American post-modernist writers...Olster's argument is thought-provoking, written in lively and clear prose, and is impressively well-researched and documented." American Literature