The Fiction of Gore Vidal and E.L. Doctorow

Writing the Historical Self

Author: Stephen Harris

Publisher: Peter Lang Gmbh, Internationaler Verlag Der Wissenschaften


Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 304

View: 189

This book offers a close study of the relationship between the individual and history - between a particularly American idea of self and how this is experienced in relation to the broader flow of events and time that shape human experience. While the discussion concentrates on Gore Vidal's historical novels Burr and 1876, and E.L. Doctorow's The Book of Daniel and Ragtime, these readings provide a full consideration of each author's views on history and historical fiction, the importance of individualism and corresponding conceptions of history within American culture, and the role of the historical novel in American literature.

Historical Subjects

Writing the Historical Self in the Fiction of Gore Vidal and E. L. Doctorow

Author: Stephen Edward George Harris



Category: Historical fiction, American

Page: 728

View: 717

Gore Vidal's America

Author: Dennis Altman

Publisher: Polity


Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 216

View: 437

Gore Vidal is one of the most significant American writers of the second half of the twentieth century, having produced a large number of best selling novels, essays, plays and pamphlets which have impacted on major political and social debates for fifty years. He is both a serious writer and a television and movie celebrity, whose increasingly acerbic picture of the United States guarantees he is both revered and reviled. Gore Vidal′s America examines the ways in which Vidal′s writings on history, politics, sex and religion throw into focus our understandings of the United States, but also recognizes his versatility and inventiveness as a creative writer, some of whose novels – Julian; Myra Breckinridge; Lincoln; Duluth – are among the important literary works of their time. Ranging from Vidal′s early defence of homosexuality in The City and the Pillar (1948) to his most recent writings on the war in Iraq, this book provides a unique perspective on the evolution of post–World War II American society, politics and literature. As Altman writes: "Difficult not to see in the results of the 2004 elections, where the Republican right gained in both the White House and the Senate, proof of Vidal′s worse fears, namely that the impact of imperial adventure, big money and religious moralism would increasingly imperil the American Republic."

Political Animal

Gore Vidal on Power

Author: Heather Neilson

Publisher: Monash University Publishing


Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 272

View: 549

The late Gore Vidal occupied a unique position within American letters. Born into a political family, he ran for office several times, but was consistently critical of his nation’s political system and its leaders. A prolific writer in several genres, he was also widely known – particularly in the United States – on the basis of his frequent appearances in the various electronic media. In this groundbreaking work examining the central theme of power throughout Vidal’s writings, Heather Neilson focuses primarily on Vidal’s historical fiction. In his novels depicting American history and those set in ancient times, Vidal evokes a world in which deliberately propagated falsehood – ‘disinformation’ – becomes established as truth. Neilson engages with Vidal’s representations of political and religious leaders, and with his deeply ambivalent fascination with the increasingly inescapable influence of the media. She asserts that Vidal’s oeuvre has a Shakespearean resonance in its persistent obsession with the question of what constitutes legitimate power and authority.

Rethinking Wilderness and the Wild

Conflict, Conservation and Co-existence

Author: Robyn Bartel

Publisher: Routledge


Category: Nature

Page: 300

View: 389

Rethinking Wilderness and the Wild: Conflict, Conservation and Co-existence examines the complexities surrounding the concept of wilderness. Contemporary wilderness scholarship has tended to fall into two categories: the so-called ‘fortress conservation’ and ‘co-existence’ schools of thought. This book, contending that this polarisation has led to a silencing and concealment of alternative perspectives and lines of enquiry, extends beyond these confines and in particular steers away from the dilemmas of paradise or paradox in order to advance an intellectual and policy agenda of plurality and diversity rather than of prescription and definition. Drawing on case studies from Australia, Aoteoroa/New Zealand, the United States and Iceland, and explorations of embodied experience, creative practice, philosophy, and First Nations land management approaches, the assembled chapters examine wilderness ideals, conflicts and human-nature dualities afresh, and examine co-existence and conservation in the Anthropocene in diverse ontological and multidisciplinary ways. By demonstrating a strong commitment to respecting the knowledge and perspectives of Indigenous peoples, this work delivers a more nuanced, ethical and decolonising approach to issues arising from relationships with wilderness. Such a collection is immediately appropriate given the political challenges and social complexities of our time, and the mounting threats to life across the globe. The abiding and uniting logic of the book is to offer a unique and innovative contribution to engender transformations of wilderness scholarship, activism and conservation policy. This text refutes the inherent privileging and exclusionary tactics of dominant modes of enquiry that too often serve to silence non-human and contrary positions. It reveals a multi-faceted and contingent wilderness alive with agency, diversity and possibility. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of conservation, environmental and natural resource management, Indigenous studies and environmental policy and planning. It will also be of interest to practitioners, policymakers and NGOs involved in conservation, protected environments and environmental governance.

The Ethical Foundations of Postmodernity

Author: Nina Michaela Von Dahlern

Publisher: BoD – Books on Demand



Page: 422

View: 673

A (re-)turn to ethics, which began in the 1980s and 1990s and is still predominant today, has been ascribed to literary studies and theory. In this book theoretical issues within ethics are discussed based on the examples of literary analyses. The authors examined are Margaret Atwood, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Robert M. Pirsig. The main questions concern the foundation on which ethical concepts are based, and the way in which such concepts function. These topics are evidently connected to matters of human concepts and human nature in general, which are understood to be fundamentally communicative. Contrary to popular conclusions of relativity, the need for a realist foundation of ethics - implying universal validity - will be revealed. It is not only possible, but also necessary to develop such an idea of ethics within a postmodern relativist framework. A communicative foundationalist ethics will thus be designed. With regard to literature an increasing emergence of first-person narrative can be witnessed in addition to a new focus on a realist and more mimetic style after a peak of pluralist conceptions at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries. The analysis of such narrative situations will reveal the significance of the narrative generation of individual personalities for an understanding of ethical questions. The conflict between relativist and realist points of view centers on the postmodern critique of the individual. The study of the literary generation of individuals will elucidate means of confronting this critique. The theoretical background includes the poststructuralist and communicative concepts of Judith Butler and Seyla Benhabib as well as Ernst Tugendhat's analytical approach. Nina von Dahlern studied English language and literature, philosophy, sociology, and educational sciences at the Universities of Hamburg and Heidelberg. This book is based on her Ph.D. thesis.

Visions of Dystopia in China's New Historical Novels

Author: Jeffrey C. Kinkley

Publisher: Columbia University Press


Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 304

View: 452

The depiction of personal and collective suffering in modern Chinese novels differs significantly from standard Communist accounts and most Eastern and Western historical narratives. Writers such as Yu Hua, Su Tong, Wang Anyi, Mo Yan, Han Shaogong, Ge Fei, Li Rui, and Zhang Wei scramble common conceptions of ChinaÕs modern development, deploying avant-garde narrative techniques from Latin American and Euro-American modernism to project a surprisingly Òun-ChineseÓ dystopian vision and critical view of human culture and ethics. The epic narratives of modern Chinese fiction make rich use of magical realism, surrealism, and unusual treatments of historical time. Also featuring graphic depictions of sex and violence and dark, raunchy comedy, these novels deeply reflect ChinaÕs turbulent recent history, re-presenting the overthrow of the monarchy in the early twentieth century and the resulting chaos of revolution and war; the recurring miseries perpetrated by class warfare during the dictatorship of Mao Zedong; and the social dislocations caused by ChinaÕs industrialization and rise as a global power. This book casts ChinaÕs highbrow historical novels from the 1990s to the mid-2000s as a distinctively Chinese contribution to the form of the global dystopian novel and, consequently, to global thinking about the interrelations of utopia and dystopia.

Geographical Inquiry and American Historical Problems

Author: Carville Earle

Publisher: Stanford University Press


Category: Reference

Page: 555

View: 690

Geography's mission is to comprehend changes on the earth's surface, and toward that end, geographers ponder the interactive effects of nature and culture within specific locations and times. This entails connecting human actions (historical events) with their immediate environs (ecological inquiry) and specific coordinates of place and region (locational inquiry). Most of the essays in this volume employ the variant of ecological inquiry the author calls the staple approach, focusing on primary production (agriculture, forestry, fishing) and its societal ramifications. Locational inquiry queries the spatial distribution of historical events: Why was mortality in early Virginia highest in a small zone along the James River? Why did cities flourish in early Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Carolina and not elsewhere along the Atlantic seaboard? Why was Boston the vanguard of the American Revolution?

Alfred Kazin

A Biography

Author: Richard M. Cook

Publisher: Yale University Press


Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 464

View: 935

Born in 1915 to barely literate Jewish immigrants in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Alfred Kazin rose from near poverty to become a dominant figure in twentieth-century literary criticism and one of Americas last great men of letters. Biographer Ri

Study Guide to Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow

Author: Intelligent Education

Publisher: Influence Publishers


Category: Study Aids

Page: 250

View: 329

A comprehensive study guide offering in-depth explanation, essay, and test prep for E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, published the year the Vietnam War came to a close in 1975. As a work of historical fiction, Ragtime uses a turn-of-the-century America as a pedestal to showcase issues such as freedom, identity, and justice. Moreover, Doctorow was one of the first to use magic realism to discuss and dissect the nature of change. This Bright Notes Study Guide explores the context and history of Doctorow’s classic work, helping students to thoroughly explore the reasons it has stood the literary test of time. Each Bright Notes Study Guide contains: - Introductions to the Author and the Work - Character Summaries - Plot Guides - Section and Chapter Overviews - Test Essay and Study Q&As The Bright Notes Study Guide series offers an in-depth tour of more than 275 classic works of literature, exploring characters, critical commentary, historical background, plots, and themes. This set of study guides encourages readers to dig deeper in their understanding by including essay questions and answers as well as topics for further research.

Conversations with Biographical Novelists

Truthful Fictions across the Globe

Author: Michael Lackey

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA


Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 296

View: 800

How does a writer approach a novel about a real person? In this new collection of interviews, authors such as Emma Donoghue, David Ebershoff, David Lodge, Colum McCann, Colm Tóibín, and Olga Tokarczuk sit down with literary scholars to discuss the relationship of history, truth, and fiction. Taken together, these conversations clarify how the biographical novel encourages cross-cultural dialogue, promotes new ways of thinking about history, politics, and social justice, and allows us to journey into the interior world of influential and remarkable people.

E. L. Doctorow

Author: Paul Levine

Publisher: Routledge


Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 94

View: 969

During his lifetime E. L. Doctorow was a remarkable phenomenon among contemporary American novelists. He was a serious writer who was popular, a political writer who was a stylist, an original writer who was highly eclectic and an historical writer who invented the past. In this study, originally published in 1985, Paul Levine follows Doctorow’s progress as a novelist and traces the development of certain themes that recur in his work including the relationships between history and imagination, between high and popular culture and between political content and radical style. He also examines Doctorow’s notion of the writer as witness and actor and of writing as a subversive activity, two concerns which link him with important writers in Europe and Latin America. The book should provide a valuable and comprehensive coverage of his work to date, including the films of Ragtime and The Book of Daniel.

Remembering America

How We Have Told Our Past

Author: Lawrence R. Samuel

Publisher: U of Nebraska Press


Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 208

View: 959

American history is ubiquitous, underscoring everything from food to travel to architecture and design. It is also emotionally charged, frequently crossing paths with political and legal issues. In Remembering America, Lawrence R. Samuel examines the place that American history has occupied within education and popular culture and how it has continually shaped and reflected our cultural values and national identity. The story of American history, Samuel explains, is not a straight line but rather one filled with twists and turns and ups and downs, its narrative path as winding as that of the United States as a whole. Organized around six distinct eras of American history ranging from the 1920s to the present, Samuel shows that our understanding of American history has often generated struggle and contention as ideologically opposed groups battled over ownership of the past. As women and minorities gained greater power and a louder voice in the national conversation, our perspectives on American history became significantly more multicultural, bringing race, gender, and class issues to the forefront. These new interpretations of our history helped to reshape our identity on both a national and an individual level. Samuel argues that the fight for ownership of our past, combined with how those owners have imparted history to our youth, crucially affects who we are. Our interpretation and expression of our country's past reflects how that self-identity has changed over the last one hundred years and created a strong sense of our collective history--one of the few things Americans all have in common.

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction

Author: Joyce G. Saricks

Publisher: American Library Association


Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 387

View: 960

Presents a reference guide to genre fiction, categorizing the literature into fifteen different genres, along with recommendations for the most representative titles and authors that can be found in each group.

A Literature Without Qualities

American Writing Since 1945

Author: Warner B. Berthoff

Publisher: University of California Press


Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 224

View: 868

This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1979.

Gore Vidal's Historical Novels and the Shaping of American Political Consciousness

Author: Stephen Harris



Category: History

Page: 247

View: 792

As a writer of sophisticated historical fiction, satirical fantasies and incisive essays on the political and cultural condition of America, Gore Vidal's reputation is well-established. This study explores Gore Vidal's use of classical scepticism in his historical novels and in his politics. While a great deal has been written about Vidal, there has not yet been published a serious analysis of his philosophical approach to the reading and interpretation of history, and how this in turn informs the writing of his historical fiction. What this study offers is a full understanding of how Vidal's sceptical and dissenting views reflect the mind of a politically committed and serious thinker, and, in turn, how these views directly inform the creation of a body of writing that is as intellectually challenging as it is engagingly varied in form and character.

Conversations with American Writers

Author: Charles Ruas

Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Incorporated


Category: American literature

Page: 324

View: 975

Features interviews with noted American writers, including Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, E.L. Doctorow, Joseph Heller, Susan Sontag, Toni Morrison, Paul Theroux, and others