John Williams, as the New Yorker noted recently, was author of ‘the greatest American novel you’ve have never heard of.’ He died in obscurity, but has enjoyed a literary renaissance due to the worldwide critical acclaim greeting recent reissues of his major novel Butcher’s Crossing, Augustus and particularly Stoner. With films of both Butcher’s Crossing and Stoner already in pre-production it is clear that Williams’ star is in the ascendant. This book is designed to offer a critical introduction to his writing. It is developed through solid scholarly research but is structured and written in a clear and direct style that makes it accessible for academics, students and general readers alike. It offers a clear sense of the novelist’s early life and work, which includes an evaluation of his academic life (he was a professor at the University of Denver) and neglected poetry. The bulk of the book is given over to readings of the three major novels: they offer an appreciation of Williams’ literary craft combined with an assessment of literary and cultural influences and an overview of contemporary critical reactions. Few authors have written such disparate works in terms of subject matter, genre and style, however they are all united in their effort to grapple with deeper existential questions. For whether his characters are riding the Western plains, speaking in the Roman Forum or reading in a dusty library, they all demonstrate Williams’ preoccupation with the ways in which youthful hopes and a strong sense of who we are shaped by life’s accidents. How we make the life meaningful, learn to love another human being, confront failure – these are the well points of Williams’ understated tragedies. Unfortunately, such meditations are rarely fashionable; but neither are they ever unfashionable. George Orwell observed that the only true critic is time: this study makes clear that Williams’ time has come.
'It's the most marvellous discovery for everyone who loves literature' Ian McEwan, BBC Radio 4 Colum McCann once called Stoner one of the great forgotten novels of the past century, but it seems it is forgotten no longer – in 2013 translations of Stoner began appearing on bestseller lists across Europe. Forty-eight years after its first, quiet publication in the US, Stoner is finally finding the wide and devoted readership it deserves. Have you read it yet? William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature changes his life, and he never returns to work on his father's farm. Stoner becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely. Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.
A witty and addictively readable day-by-day literary companion. At once a love letter to literature and a charming guide to the books most worth reading, A Reader's Book of Days features bite-size accounts of events in the lives of great authors for every day of the year. Here is Marcel Proust starting In Search of Lost Time and Virginia Woolf scribbling in the margin of her own writing, "Is it nonsense, or is it brilliance?" Fictional events that take place within beloved books are also included: the birth of Harry Potter’s enemy Draco Malfoy, the blood-soaked prom in Stephen King’s Carrie. A Reader's Book of Days is filled with memorable and surprising tales from the lives and works of Martin Amis, Jane Austen, James Baldwin, Roberto Bolano, the Brontë sisters, Junot Díaz, Philip K. Dick, Charles Dickens, Joan Didion, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Keats, Hilary Mantel, Haruki Murakami, Flannery O’Connor, Orhan Pamuk, George Plimpton, Marilynne Robinson, W. G. Sebald, Dr. Seuss, Zadie Smith, Susan Sontag, Hunter S. Thompson, Leo Tolstoy, David Foster Wallace, and many more. The book also notes the days on which famous authors were born and died; it includes lists of recommended reading for every month of the year as well as snippets from book reviews as they appeared across literary history; and throughout there are wry illustrations by acclaimed artist Joanna Neborsky. Brimming with nearly 2,000 stories, A Reader's Book of Days will have readers of every stripe reaching for their favorite books and discovering new ones.
Reader's Guide Literature in English provides expert guidance to, and critical analysis of, the vast number of books available within the subject of English literature, from Anglo-Saxon times to the current American, British and Commonwealth scene. It is designed to help students, teachers and librarians choose the most appropriate books for research and study.
"This book about reading the English novel during the "long eighteenth century," a stretch of time that, in the generally accepted ways of breaking up British literary history into discrete periods for university courses, begins some time after the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 and ends around 1830, before the reign of Queen Victoria. At the beginning of this period, the novel can hardly be said to exist, and writing prose fiction is a mildly disreputable literary activity. Around 1720, Daniel Defoe's fictional autobiographies spark continuations and imitations, and in the 1740s, with Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding's novels begin what is perceived as "a new kind of writing." By the end of the period, with Jane Austen and Walter Scott, the novel has not only come into existence, it has developed into a more-or-less respectable genre, and in fact publishers have begun to issue series of novels (edited by Walter Scott and by Anna Barbauld, among others) that establish for that time, if not necessarily for ours, a canon of the English novel. With the decline of the English drama and the almost complete eclipse of the epic, the novel has become by default the serious literary long form, on its way to becoming by the mid-nineteenth century, with Dickens, Thackeray, and Eliot, the pre-eminent genre of literature. This chapter will consider how and why the novel came to be when it did"--
Letters between Chester Himes and John A. Williams
Author: John A. Williams
Publisher: Wayne State University Press
Category: Literary Collections
Chester Himes and John A. Williams met in 1961, as Himes was on the cusp of transcontinental celebrity and Williams, sixteen years his junior, was just beginning his writing career. Both men would go on to receive international acclaim for their work, including Himes’s Harlem detective novels featuring Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson and Williams’s major novels The Man Who Cried I Am, Captain Blackman, and Clifford’s Blues. Dear Chester, Dear John is a landmark collection of correspondence between these two friends, presenting nearly three decades worth of letters about their lives and loves, their professional and personal challenges, and their reflections on society in the United States and abroad. Prepared by John A. Williams and his wife, Lori, this collection contains rare and personal glimpses into the lives of Williams and Himes between 1962 and 1987. As the writers find increasing professional success and recognition, they share candid assessments of each others’ work and also discuss the numerous pitfalls they faced as African American writers in the publishing world. The letters offer a window into Himes’s and Williams’s personalities, as the elder writer reveals his notoriously difficult and suspicious streak, and Williams betrays both immense affection and frustration in dealing with his old friend. Despite several rifts in their relationship, Williams’s concern for Himes’s failing health ensured that the two kept in touch until Himes’s death. Dear Chester, Dear John is a heartfelt and informative collection that allows readers to step behind the scenes of a lifelong friendship between two important literary figures. Students and teachers of African American literature will enjoy this one-of-a-kind volume.
This is the first comprehensive book-length study of gender politics in Ngugi wa Thiong'o's fiction. Brendon Nicholls argues that mechanisms of gender subordination are strategically crucial to Ngugi's ideological project from his first novel to his most recent one. Nicholls describes the historical pressures that lead Ngugi to represent women as he does, and shows that the novels themselves are symptomatic of the cultural conditions that they address. Reading Ngugi's fiction in terms of its Gikuyu allusions and references, a gendered narrative of history emerges that creates transgressive spaces for women. Nicholls bases his discussion on moments during the Mau Mau rebellion when women's contributions to the anticolonial struggle could not be reduced to a patriarchal narrative of Kenyan history, and this interpretive maneuver permits a reading of Ngugi's fiction that accommodates female political and sexual agency. Nicholls contributes to postcolonial theory by proposing a methodology for reading cultural difference. This methodology critiques cultural practices like clitoridectomy in an ethical manner that seeks to avoid both cultural imperialism and cultural relativisim. His strategy of 'performative reading,' that is, making the conditions of one text (such as folklore, history, or translation) active in another (for example, fiction, literary narrative, or nationalism), makes possible an ethical reading of gender and of the conditions of reading in translation.
The 1990s proved to be a particularly rich and fascinating period for British fiction. This book presents a fresh perspective on the diverse writings that appeared over the decade, bringing together leading academics in the field. British Fiction of the 1990s: traces the concerns that emerged as central to 1990s fiction, in sections on millennial anxieties, identity politics, the relationship between the contemporary and the historical, and representations of contemporary space offers distinctive new readings of the most important novelists of the period, including Martin Amis, Beryl Bainbridge, Pat Barker, Julian Barnes, A.S. Byatt, Hanif Kureishi, Ian McEwan, Iain Sinclair, Zadie Smith and Jeanette Winterson shows how British fiction engages with major cultural debates of the time, such as the concern with representing various identities and cultural groups, or theories of ‘the end of history’ discusses 1990s fiction in relation to broader literary and critical theories, including postmodernism, post-feminism and postcolonialism. Together the essays highlight the ways in which the writing of the 1990s represents a development of the themes and styles of the post-war novel generally, yet displays a range of characteristics distinct to the decade.
Most undergraduate literature courses begin with a compulsory survey course on the novel. The Nineteenth-Century Novel: A Critical Reader fills a real gap in the market as no other book provides such a comprehensive selection of contemporary and modern essays and reviews on the most important novels of the period. By bringing together a range of material written across two centuries, it offers an insight into the changing reception of realist fiction and a discussion of how complex debates about the meaning and function of realism informed and shaped the kind of fiction that was written in the nineteenth century. The novels discussed are: Northanger Abbey, Jane Eyre, Dombey and Son, Middlemarch, Far From the Madding Crowd, Germinal, Madame Bovary, The Woman in White, The Portrait of a Lady, The Awakening, Dracula, Heart of Darkness.