Facts on File Companion to the American Novel (Companion to Literature) 3-Volume Set

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Facts on File Companion to the American Novel (Companion to Literature) 3-Volume Set


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To my father, Thomas Kennedy Potter, Jr. (1917–2003)

The Facts On File Companion to the American Novel Copyright © 2006 by Abby H. P. Werlock All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information contact: Facts On File, Inc. An imprint of Infobase Publishing 132 West 31st Street New York NY 10001 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The Facts on File companion to the American novel / [edited by] Abby H. P. Werlock. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-8160-4528-3 (set: hardcover: alk. paper) 1. American fiction—Encyclopedias. 2. American fiction—Bio-bibliography. 3. American fiction— Stories, plots, etc. I. Title: Companion to the American novel. II. Werlock, Abby H. P. III. Facts On File, Inc. IV. Title. PS371.F33 2005 813′.003—dc22


Facts On File books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk quantities for businesses, associations, institutions, or sales promotions. Please call our Special Sales Department in New York at (212) 967-8800 or (800) 322-8755. You can find Facts On File on the World Wide Web at http://www.factsonfile.com Text design adapted by James Scotto-Lavino Cover design by Cathy Rincon Printed in the United States of America VB Hermitage 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 This book is printed on acid-free paper.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS CD College; Helen Pike Bauer, Iona College; and Michael J. Meyer, DePaul University, all of whom helped me to match qualified scholars with particular American novels. Mickey Pearlman’s PowerPunch, a women’s empowerment group in New Jersey consisting of talented women in all fields, provided both encouragement and professional contributions. Thanks also to Kelly Flanagan and the National Council for Teachers of English; The American Literature Association Web site; and the University of Pennsylvania Call for Papers Mailing List, all of which proved to be valuable resources. Librarians and libraries make all research and scholarship possible, and I particularly wish to thank Sue Wolfe, librarian, Allen F. Pierce Free Library in Troy, Pennsylvania, for acquisitions and access that smoothed the way for this book. At Mansfield University Library, Larry Nesbit, director of communications; Karen LeMasters, head of interlibrary loan; and Beth Williams, head of circulation, provided invaluable access and assistance with databases and interlibrary loan. Professor Laurie Hime of the Miami Dade Community College Library provided specialized assistance on numerous occasions. Of the many databases and reference books helpful in compiling this book, three in particular we found useful for background information: the Gale Group’s Contemporary Authors and Dictionary of Literary Biography and Greenwood Publishing’s BioBibliographical Sourcebooks. I wish to pay special tribute to Matt Strange of Autograph Systems in Mansfield,

A book of this scope owes its success to a stunning array of experts in myriad areas. Anne Savarese, former senior editor with Facts On File, conceived the work as the natural offspring of The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, published in 2000. Since then the manuscript has been shepherded by three highly gifted and dedicated editors: the multitalented Facts On File executive editor Jeff Soloway has overseen the work from beginning to end; author, editor, literary critic, and friend Mickey Pearlman focused her impeccable editorial expertise on hundreds of author entries; and my husband and assistant editor, Jim Werlock, concentrated his editorial and bibliographical skills on both author and novel entries. Additionally, Facts On File assistant editor Cameron Dufty provided excellent feedback on the manuscript. To the gifted scholars who contributed lively, original and jargon-free essays on American novels, I owe a huge debt of gratitude, not only for their expertise, but also for the time they stole from full-time jobs and busy lives in order to enhance the quality of this book. Their names appear after each entry, and their names and affiliations appear on the contributors list. For their longterm support of this undertaking, I am grateful to my agent, Diana Finch, formerly of the Ellen Levine Literary Agency, and to Laurie Likoff, editorial director of Facts On File. Thanks, too, go to Professors Robert DeMott, Ohio University; Rocio Davis, University of Navarre, Spain; Susan Goodman, University of Delaware; Michael J. Kiskis, Elmira College; Anna Leahy, North Central



Pennsylvania, for repeatedly responding to computer crises both large and small, for explaining the vagaries as well as the values of computers and cyberspace, and for providing Internet backup assistance. Finally, I thank family and friends who consistently gave of their time and supported this project through discussion, suggestion, proofreading, and just plain encouragement: Marcia Case; Sally Case; Carole De

Lauro; Jill and Wade Fluck; Susan Hamerski; June Jacoby; Kate Kerr; Johnnie and Heinz Luebkemann; Melinda Neese; Abby Holmes Potter; Thomas K. Potter, Jr.; Dewey Potter; and John and Jennifer Winton. And, as with the Companion to the Short Story, I thank Marshall Case (1918–2005) for his standing offer of his 18th-century log house whenever I needed a quiet retreat.

INTRODUCTION CD The novel—from the French word nouvelle, meaning “new”—had its antecedents in Europe. Working its way across the channel to Britain, it took a variety of forms in the hands of such British practitioners as Sir Walter Scott (the historical novel), Mary Shelley (the gothic novel), Samuel Richardson (the epistolary novel). From its early appearance, the novel—loosely defined as any lengthy prose fiction work—was accessible to many, particularly the middle class, both in terms of themes and language and its availability through libraries. It addressed a broad number of social issues and classes and was available to immigrants as well as the native-born. By the time the American Revolution had ended and independence from Britain had been achieved, the fledgling country had new Americans who had no novels of their own, so these early American readers—middle-class colonists—would read English novelists. Because books were expensive (a good-size library consisted of 25 books), many relied on the serialized novels appearing in the more than 60 colonial newspapers and on public libraries, which charged only a few dollars a year for borrowing privileges. In 1789 William Wells Brown wrote The Power of Sympathy, now generally regarded as the first American novel. Then, as now, women constituted a large percentage of the reading public; moreover, it was women who wrote the two best-selling novels of the time: Even then there was the “damn mob of scribbling women” of whom Hawthorne complained. Susanna Haswell Rowson wrote Charlotte:

THE AMERICAN NOVEL “In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book?” asked the Englishman Sydney Smith in 1820. Although the American novel has now been with us for more than 200 years, its reputation has undergone a sea change over the last half-century. It weathered the dire predictions of its own death in the mid-1960s and continues to be a world-class genre. From today’s perspective it is difficult to recall that the American novel was once considered a sort of awkward younger sister of the English novel. Forty years ago, at Oxford University for summer study, a young Cambridge student admitted he had never read an American novel and asked me to name some famous American writers. When I mentioned Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, his response was, “Oh, yes, I’ve heard of them—but I thought they were English.” In my early years of teaching and graduate study—in the United States, Spain, Britain, and Thailand—because of a dearth in and growing need for expertise in American fiction, I was called on for various assignments and positions (for instance, in the early 1970s I gave a number of talks on William Faulkner, who had just been added to the A-level examinations in England). Still, just as the American novel appeared to be gaining respectability both within and outside the United States, no one could have predicted the explosion of talent that today characterizes writers of American novels. In contemporary parlance, who knew how significant the American novel would become?



a Tale of Truth in 1791 (later called Charlotte Temple), and Hannah Webster Foster wrote The Coquette in 1797. Not surprisingly, American attitudes as expressed in literature were inherited from those popular in Europe and Britain and, initially, found an outlet in the romantic traditions that exalted the individual over society as a whole. These revolts from older, more established doctrines blended with the prevailing interests of the new Americans, who saw infinite possibility in the New Eden for which they had abandoned their roots in the old countries. James Fenimore Cooper, the first American novelist to achieve international popularity and acclaim, took the romantic love of nature and the individual and created from them a number of distinctly American novels, particularly the Leatherstocking Tales, in which the white Natty Bumppo teams up with the Native American Chincachgook and gradually moves across the continent from New York State to the Western prairies. In Cooper are found the seeds of major issues with which Americans and American novelists would grapple, particularly the clash of the Edenic new world and individual optimism with the national sins against Indians, African Americans, and the land. Nathaniel Hawthorne expressed the darkness he perceived at the heart of the American experience through romantic novels infused with symbolism, a technique that became peculiarly identified with American literature. Herman Melville, too, expressed this pessimism in his great novels, as did Edgar Allan Poe in his writings. The concerns expressed by our earliest writers reached a crescendo in the Civil War waged in the United States between 1861 and 1865. The end of the Civil War ushered in a reaction against a romantic attitude and a tendency, reflected in American novels, to examine the human heart and the national character in the bright light of reality. The major novelists of the last half of the 19th century followed the lead of William Dean Howells, who encouraged writers to describe the reality of the United States as they saw it. Realism, better than romanticism, they felt, could respond to the social, economic, and political changes rapidly overtaking the county as it moved from the rural to the urban. Henry James wrote realistic portraits of the inner workings of American minds, and Mark Twain reproduced the sounds and ungram-

matical aspects of American speech as they depicted the late 19th-century American. This realism found supporters in such writers as the African Americans Charles W. Chesnutt and Frances Harper and the New York Jewish writer Abraham Cahan, along with such women as Mary Wilkins Freeman and Kate Chopin, Rebecca Harding Davis, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Edith Wharton. In the early 20th century their ranks were swelled by exposé writer Upton Sinclair, Hamlin Garland, and Edward Bellamy. Realism was stretched further by Jack London, Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, and Theodore Dreiser, whose naturalistic views— influenced by the teachings of Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and Charles Darwin—saw individual life subsumed to the greater forces of nature and fate. The cataclysmic effects of World War I, from 1914 to 1918, produced a generation of writers who believed in the credo “make it new,” and who became immensely popular. Emerging on the scene were such modernists as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hilda Doolittle (H. D.), Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, William Carlos Williams, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, whose laconic, terse style still influences American writers, and William Faulkner, who transposed the southern experience into a universal one. Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer and others emerged from the Harlem Renaissance. Equally successful were Pearl Buck, Margaret Mitchell, Ellen Glasgow, Katherine Anne Porter, and Eudora Welty, who continued to use realistic techniques to dissect the American psyche, as did the Native American Mourning Dove. As the United States entered the Great Depression, proletarian or social protest writers such as Meridel LeSueur, Tillie Olsen, Richard Wright, James T. Farrell, and John Dos Passos emerged as well. World War II produced some notable novelists: James Jones, Herman Wouk, and Irwin Shaw, for instance. Emerging to win the Nobel Prize, as had his predecessors Hemingway, Faulkner, and Steinbeck, was Saul Bellow. Other writers influenced by their Jewish heritage include Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joseph Heller, and Norman Mailer. African Americans Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin were read widely, along with Ann Petry, Chester Himes, and Frank Yerby. Pennsylvanian John O’Hara and New


Englander John Cheever achieved acclaim for their tales of suburbia, as did J. D. Salinger, and John Updike. Emerging in the late 1940s and early 1950s were the Beat writers Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Ken Kesey. In the 1950s and 1960s self-reflective fiction became popular, headed by Vladimir Nabokov and followed by John Hawkes, William Gaddis, Donald Barthelme, and Thomas Pynchon. The second half of the century featured such writers as Joyce Carol Oates, John Gardner, Gail Godwin, E. L. Doctorow, William Kennedy, and Ann Beattie, northeasterners whose fiction ranged from the realistic to the black comedy of the absurd. Southern writers continued to contribute through the work of Walker Percy, Reynolds Price, Lee Smith, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Jayne Anne Phillips. The Vietnam War produced notable writers Tim O’Brien and Robert Stone, and realistic and naturalistic fiction continued in the novels of Larry McMurtry, to name only one. Ethnically diverse and talented writers energized the novels of the last part of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st. Asian Americans Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston helped lead the way, as did African Americans Toni Morrison (who won the Nobel Prize), Alice Walker, Charles Johnson, Ishmael Reed, and Paule Marshall; Native Americans Leslie Marmon Silko, N. Scott Momaday, and James Welch; and Latina writers Julia Alvarez and Sandra Benítez. In short, most of the old forms survive, given new twists or blended with one or more older forms: bildungsroman, Kunstlerroman, domestic fiction, and the epistolary novel, along with the gothic, historical, minimalist, mystery and detective, romance, science fiction, war, sentimental, and working class novels. The American novel not only survives but flourishes, as it continues to examine the individual experience, the westward moving tendency, the hero—male or female—the American Dream, the Protestant work ethic, the vanishing wilderness theme, and the continuing revitalization of the genre through the contributions of America’s innumerable voices.

ABOUT THIS BOOK Compiling and writing the entries for The Facts On File Companion to the American Novel has been both a heady

experience and a challenge. The book contains two kinds of entries: objective biographical overviews of some 450 authors and detailed, original essays on approximately 500 novels, mixed together and arranged alphabetically. Given the scope of the project, we understood from the beginning that, although we could not include every American novelist, we could with very few exceptions include all those who have won wide acclaim for their literary appeal or historical significance or have received significant literary awards, such as the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. In selecting novels, we selected those that are read most often in high school and college classrooms, as well as others that seemed particularly significant both historically and artistically, and some that have simply attracted a large following of devotees. In terms of genre, we followed the leads of numerous high school and college instructors and included a number of short novels or novellas. We also included several autobiographies and other nonfictional works that are presented via literary or novelistic techniques; these works are also frequently taught and read alongside novels. Finally, in addition to choosing a significant number of women writers, we selected a large number of writers from various regional and ethnic backgrounds, including writers whose work has attracted significant critical attention but in some cases has not reached the wider audience that it deserves. Although we planned from the outset to include a large number of contemporary novelists and their work—a priority that distinguishes The Facts On File Companion to the American Novel from numerous other reference works—we did not wish to do so at the expense of older writers and their novels. In fact, we wanted to pay tribute to the earlier, so-called classic writers, and, therefore, in many cases included alongside their famous novels some less well-known ones that deserve a broader readership. That said, we have included an unusually large component of prize-winning and critically acclaimed contemporary novelists and their work. The result is an expanded and inclusive reference work that swelled from its initial two volumes to three, resulting in an even better book than we had envisioned.


AD story through a series of conversations with interlocutors including an old woman named Rosa Coldfield, his father, and his Canadian roommate at Harvard, Shrevlin McCannon. For the most part these characters become the narrators of the story, though what they know is occasionally filtered through an authorial narrative voice. Not only do the characters remember different details of the Sutpen story, but they also differ frequently in their interpretations of characters and events. At times, they encounter gaps in the narrative or inexplicable actions, and they often remedy those gaps by supplying their own imaginative reconstructions of events and motivations. This is especially true of the conversations between Quentin and Shreve in their Harvard sitting room, which dominate the novel’s final chapters. Much of the enormously complex story of Sutpen himself is provided by Faulkner in a chronology and genealogy that appear at the end of the book. Sutpen is born in the West Virginia mountains in 1807 to a poor white family of Scottish-English descent, and 10 years later his family moves to the Tidewater region of Virginia. When he is 14, Sutpen is sent to a plantation house with a message but is turned away by a black servant, who considers him to be white trash. This event appears to be the turning point for Sutpen that prompts him to implement the “design” the novel speaks of and to run off to Haiti to make his fortune on a sugar plantation. There he meets and marries his first

ABSALOM, ABSALOM! WILLIAM FAULKNER (1936) Absalom, Absalom! was William FAULKNER’s eighth novel and the first to include a map of its setting, the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. In many respects it is Faulkner’s most ambitious work, and it caused him more trouble to write than any novel other than his SOUND AND THE FURY (1929). He was working on early versions of Absalom even before writing Pylon (1935), though the bulk of the work was done between early spring 1935 and winter 1936. This was an especially difficult period for Faulkner, as his attention was divided between work on his manuscript and work on shorter pieces, which he needed to publish to maintain financial stability. Work on his novel was also frequently interrupted by trips to Hollywood to write screenplays, another indispensable source of income. To make matters worse, in November 1935 his brother Dean was killed in a plane crash, and the combined stress of all these events created an additional obstacle in the form of some of Faulkner’s worst drinking bouts. The novel contains two parallel narratives, one involving the rise and fall of the Thomas Sutpen family, and the other involving 21-year-old Quentin Compson’s reconstruction of that saga. Quentin Compson first appeared in The Sound and the Fury, but in fictional time, his activities in Absalom, Absalom! occur less than a year before his suicide in the earlier book. Quentin gradually learns the details of Sutpen’s



wife, the daughter of a plantation owner, and helps to suppress a slave revolt. Upon the birth of his son, Charles Bon, Sutpen learns of his wife’s Negro blood and repudiates her; he then strikes out for Jefferson in Yoknapatawpha County. He arrives in Jefferson in 1833, bringing with him from the West Indies a horde of “wild Negroes” and a captive French architect. This strange group immediately begins to clear swampland on which to build his plantation, Sutpen’s Hundred. Despite his shady origins and uncouth behavior—which includes late-night “raree shows” featuring brawls with and among his slaves—Sutpen gains the town’s grudging respect by marrying Ellen Coldfield, a local merchant’s daughter, and accumulating a fortune in the cotton business. A son, Henry, and a daughter, Judith, are born to Sutpen and Ellen, but not before Sutpen also fathers a daughter, Clytemnestra or “Clytie,” with a slave. Henry meets Charles Bon at the University of Mississippi and introduces him to Judith, and they become engaged. On Christmas Eve, 1860, virtually the eve of the Civil War, Sutpen tells Henry about Bon’s origins, but Henry refuses to listen, repudiates his birthright, and runs off with Bon to enlist in the Confederate army. During the war, in which Sutpen also participates, Ellen dies, and Henry, upon his return, murders Bon at the gates of Sutpen’s Hundred, then disappears. Rosa Coldfield, Ellen’s sister, moves to Sutpen’s Hundred and soon becomes engaged to Sutpen. He insults her, however, by proposing that they have a child first and marry only if it is a boy—an heir to replace Henry. Utterly mortified, she leaves him. In his quest to find an heir, Sutpen turns to Milly Jones, the granddaughter of Wash Jones, an admirer of Sutpen’s who has come to live in an abandoned fishing camp on the property. But when Sutpen’s child by Milly turns out to be a daughter, he insults her as well, and Wash kills him with a scythe. At this point, Charles Etienne (de) Saint-Valery Bon arrives at Sutpen’s Hundred. He turns out to be Charles Bon’s child by an octoroon “wife” he had kept in New Orleans before coming to Mississippi. On separate trips to New Orleans, both Sutpen and Henry apparently had discovered Bon’s secret. Bon’s son comes to live at Sutpen’s Hundred under the care of Judith and Clytie, and after disap-

pearing for a number of years he returns with an extremely dark-skinned wife. They have an “idiot” son named Jim Bond, but a few years later malaria claims Charles’s life, as well as that of Judith Sutpen. This is the point at which the novel’s past finally merges with its present. In September 1909, after the conversations in which Rosa has been recounting the Sutpen story to Quentin, the two of them go out to Sutpen’s Hundred to investigate Rosa’s claim that someone—or “something,” as she puts it—has been living in the decaying house for the past four years. In an upstairs room they find an emaciated, 70-year-old Henry, still hiding from the authorities. When Rosa returns in December to bring Henry back to town, Clytie sets fire to the house, leaving Jim Bond to howl in the smoldering ruins. The key questions raised by this narrative and explored by various narrators involve the nature and motivation of Sutpen’s “design” and Henry’s motives for killing Charles Bon. The former appear to derive from the 14-year-old Sutpen’s experience at the Tidewater plantation, which crystallized for him a southern class structure that placed even African Americans above his “white trash” status. Sutpen reacts by attempting to raise himself to the level of the plantation owners who rejected him. This explains most of his actions, from his experience in Haiti to his search for a male heir. For both Rosa and Mr. Compson, this “design” is inimical to southern tradition. Rosa portrays Sutpen as the demon in a fable about the destruction of the southern way of life, which she also celebrates during the war by writing poems about fallen Confederate heroes. The more detached, ironic Mr. Compson finds Sutpen’s flaw to be his “innocence,” an innocence that makes him aspire to create an aristocratic heritage into which one can only be born, as Mr. Compson’s own father had been. Sutpen’s story is certainly, at some level, an allegory of southern history. The climax of Quentin’s efforts to get to the bottom of it occurs when Shreve asks him, “Why do you hate the South?” and the novel ends with Quentin protesting, somewhat disingenuously, “I don’t hate it!” (303). The critic Robert Dale Parker observes that Mississippi had no long history of plantation culture but saw the emergence of plantations only when poor


whites migrated west to plant cotton in the 1830s and 1840s—about the time Sutpen arrived in Jefferson. This historical fact makes Sutpen’s story typical, not anomalous, and it suggests that in the novel, Faulkner is not endorsing but exposing the myths of southern heritage that inform Rosa’s and Mr. Compson’s narratives. As for Henry’s motives, a number of hypotheses are offered and rejected in the course of the novel, and they center on the unknown “trump card” that Sutpen supposedly played in that fateful Christmas Eve conversation with Henry. The first possibility is that the decisive revelation was the identity of Bon’s father, and that Henry murdered Bon to prevent incest between half brother and half sister. Next, Mr. Compson proposes that Sutpen, who had traveled to New Orleans to investigate Bon, told Henry of Bon’s octoroon wife. On this theory, Henry murdered Bon to prevent bigamy. The final hypothesis, and the one Faulkner’s text seems to endorse, is that Sutpen told Henry of Bon’s African blood, so Henry murdered Bon to prevent (further) miscegenation. This reading is borne out by the novel’s conclusion, in which Sutpen’s mixed-race progeny preside over the final destruction of his “design.” Many critics have seen in the novel Faulkner’s characteristic ambivalence about race as well as larger issues about the role of race in southern culture and American culture in general. One such study is that of Thadious Davis, who finds simultaneous attitudes of antipathy toward and dependence upon African Americans in the characters’ obsessive need to define themselves in opposition to the category of the “Negro.” The most prevalent attitude in criticism on the novel, however, focuses on the way its narrative structure makes the act of fiction-making or storytelling itself a central theme. For Robert Dale Parker, the novel casts suspicion on its various narrators and the stories they tell in order to critique compulsively repeated myths like those about the South, and Myra Jehlen takes this reading one step further. In her view, with the discovery of Henry in the decaying Sutpen mansion near the end of the book, the story moves from the realm of myth to the realm of history, from the realm of fantasy wish-fulfillment to the realm of objective existence. This move coincides with the ascendance of the theory that miscegenation was Henry’s

true motive, which for Jehlen represents the historical truth that all the novel’s characters try to deny. An opposed reading of the novel is that of James L. Guetti, who considers it the radical culmination of a tradition of skepticism that runs through Herman MELVILLE and Joseph Conrad. For Guetti, the failures of the various narrators to make sense of Sutpen’s story show the inevitable failure of language to make sense of the world or to represent an objective truth. Most important, Guetti sees this idea as the link between the novel’s two parallel narratives. While some critics, including Parker, have found Sutpen to be completely lacking in imagination, Guetti sees his pursuit of his “design” as itself an imaginative act, one that parallels the various attempts of Quentin, his father, Rosa Coldfield, and Shreve, to reconstruct it imaginatively. Just as Sutpen’s attempt to make meaning out of his life as a southerner are thwarted by his life’s essential meaninglessness, so the narrators’ attempts to make sense of his story are thwarted by the meaninglessness that haunts language. A comment Faulkner made to his publisher when he first conceived the novel sheds further light on the parallels between its two narratives. He said, “The story is of a man who wanted a son through pride, and got too many of them and they destroyed him” (Blotner, 334). Having repudiated his heritage, Sutpen pursues his design to recreate his own identity, and as Guetti notes, the culmination of his imaginative act of self-creation is the creation of a son: “Sutpen’s conception of fatherhood, as his conception of the entire world, is founded upon the conviction that the begetting of a son is not a physical or a literal act, but an imaginative and metaphorical achievement; fatherhood is the creation of the essential element in a design, in a structure that will endure” (Guetti, 91). But as Faulkner suggested in his own description of the novel, the creation of sons is the success that will also be the failure of his design: it is the sons who will destroy the father. Specifically, it is Sutpen’s mixed-race descendants who ultimately destroy his design. First Charles Bon, and then Charles Etienne Saint-Valery Bon, appear out of nowhere at the door of Sutpen’s Hundred, just as the 14-year-old Sutpen had appeared at the door of the Tidewater plantation house, and their appearance suggest an inversion of the scene


in which Sutpen is turned away by the slave. Their rejection becomes the “flaw” or unintended consequence of his design that rises up to destroy it for good when Clytie burns down the house, destroying Henry, the surviving “legitimate” heir, and leaving only Jim Bond to howl among the ashes. This struggle of the narrators to impose their identities on Sutpen’s story is clearly what Rosa Coldfield has in mind when she mentions “the raging and incredulous recounting (which enables man to bear with living).” Rosa herself is a poetess, and she admits that this struggle lies behind her reasoning for telling her story to Quentin: “So maybe you will enter the literary profession as so many Southern gentlemen and gentlewomen too are doing now and maybe some day you will remember this and write about it.” But like Sutpen’s mixed-race children, Quentin has his own designs on the narrative he has inherited from Rosa and his father, designs that are in some ways opposed to those of the older generation. Quentin’s revisions of the narrative are the products of his ambivalence toward the South, as well as the more personal family conflicts that lead to his suicide in The Sound and the Fury. More important, Quentin’s own narrative is fated to be rewritten by other writers and listeners, a process we already glimpse at the end of the novel in his conversations with Shreve. Perhaps, then, the novel’s conception of the inevitable failure of fiction-making is based not on the inaccessibility of objective truth, but instead on the fact of mortality, which ensures the mortality of narratives in the sense that it dooms them to misreading and rewriting.

SOURCES Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography. New York: Vintage, 1990. Davis, Thadious. Faulkner’s “Negro”: Art and the Southern Context. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983. Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom!: The Corrected Text. New York: Vintage, 1990. Guetti, James L. The Limits of Metaphor: A Study of Melville, Conrad, and Faulkner. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1967. Gwin, Minrose C. The Feminine and Faulkner: Reading (Beyond) Sexual Difference. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1990.

Irwin, John T. Doubling and Incest / Repetition and Revenge: A Speculative Reading of Faulkner. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975. Jehlen, Myra. Class and Character in Faulkner’s South. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976. Parker, Robert Dale. “Absalom, Absalom!” In The Questioning of Fictions. Twayne’s Masterwork Studies 76. New York: Twayne, 1991. Pearce, Richard. The Politics of Narration: James Joyce, William Faulkner, and Virginia Woolf. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1991. Bryan Vescio

ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, THE ANNE TYLER (1985) The Accidental Tourist, Anne TYLER’s 10th novel, won the 1985 National Book Critics Circle Award for the most distinguished work of American fiction and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. It was made into a Warner Brothers feature-length film starring William Hurt as protagonist Macon Leary, Kathleen Turner as his wife, Sarah, and Geena Davis as his lover, Muriel Pritchett. Like the majority of Tyler’s work, The Accidental Tourist is a domestic novel set in Baltimore and focusing on family tragedy and conflict. In coping with the violent and random death of their son Ethan, the tensions between Macon Leary and Sarah rise to the surface: she is warm, loving, and emotional; he is dispassionate, conventional, and undemonstrative. By the end of chapter 1 Sarah has left her husband of 20 years, determined to obtain a divorce. Alice Hall Petry has noted similarities between Tyler’s work and that of Nathaniel HAWTHORNE, pointing out that the works of both writers demonstrate the often paralyzing and immobilizing nature of the past (Petry, 8). One year after Ethan’s senseless death, Macon Leary functions, but only in an almost mechanical way, and Sarah’s departure devastates him. Tyler’s psychological portrait of Macon is thoroughly convincing, detailed, and alternately comic and sympathetic. He is “leery” of an existence that has robbed him of both son and wife. Overcome by loneliness, Macon behaves in neurotic and obsessive ways, closeting himself in his house and adopting a rigid and unvarying schedule. He shops for groceries only on Tuesdays; he


wears sweat suits to avoid making choices and ensuring he will have no daytime clothes or pajamas to launder. Finally, after he breaks his leg, Macon moves in with his unmarried sister Rose and his two divorced brothers, Porter and Charles. The four aging “children” live together in their grandparents’ house, barricaded against the rest of the world, compulsively labeling their groceries alphabetically and playing “Vaccination,” their own complicated card game that metaphorically inoculates them against the hardship and sorrow beyond their walls (Petry, 215). Perhaps fortunately for Macon, he has the responsibility for Ethan’s dog Edward. The dog’s temperamental behavior reflects Macon’s own, and Macon decides to seek professional help for him. The compassionate dog trainer’s name is Muriel; she also appeals to Macon, and within a very short time he moves into her home and becomes a “surrogate father” to Muriel’s son Alexander, instilling in him a sense of self-confidence that Macon himself lacks at this point (Bail). Macon, who has made a living by writing tourism guidebooks for travelers who do not like to venture beyond the safe zone of home and neighborhood, is devastated by his new insights into the human condition. Yet he overcomes his fear of traveling in order to acquire material for his books. Tyler is suggesting that he has come some distance on his own journey. Unlike his brothers who have chosen to work in the secure but stultifying family business, a factory that manufactures obsolete cork-lined bottle caps, Macon’s travels signal his latent ability to evoke and accept change. Moreover, he learns from the unconventional Muriel, a free spirit and a madcap as well as a woman of unmistakably strong will, that behavior modification is possible. Edward the dog learns the same lesson. The novel ends in Paris, not Baltimore, where Macon is traveling on business. When he is unexpectedly joined by both his wife Sarah and his lover Muriel, Macon realizes that he must choose one of the two women. He knows that he will always feel romantic love for Sarah, but enjoys the spirit of adventure and feeling of joie de vivre that Muriel engenders in him. Macon, a man who, at his worst, is fastidious, pedantic, and hypochondriacal, has learned to be

merry and tolerant and adventurous. As in most of Anne Tyler’s novels, the journey has taught him that he does not have the power to eliminate his past or to deny life’s pain; however, he can make choices in his life and his traveling companion, and live with the most happiness possible under the circumstances, even if he is helpless to eliminate the residue of a painful past.

SOURCES Bail, Paul. Anne Tyler. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002. Greenwood Electronic Media. Available online by subscription. URL: http://gw2.scbbs.com/cc/cc.jsp?bk= tyler&id=1-1. Accessed August 21, 2005. Evans, Elizabeth. Anne Tyler. New York: Twayne, 1993. Gilbert, Susan. “Private Lives and Public Issues: Anne Tyler’s Prize-Winning Novels.” In The Fiction of Anne Tyler, edited by C. Ralph Stephens, 136–145. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1990. Petry, Alice Hall. Understanding Anne Tyler. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1990. Stephens, C. Ralph, ed. The Fiction of Anne Tyler. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1990. Tyler, Anne. The Accidental Tourist. New York: Berkley Books, 1986. Voelker, Joseph C. Art and the Accidental in Anne Tyler. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1989.

ACKER, KATHY (1948–1997)

Kathy Acker, an iconic figure in the punk movement of the 1970s, became the female enfant terrible of the postmodern writing community, shocking readers and critics alike with her radically unconventional style and sexually explicit subject matter. Substituting chaos, immorality, and pornography for order, convention, and romantic love, Acker’s writings appear intentionally fragmented and disordered, but they are in fact a demonstration of society’s view of women as sexual objects. Consequently, she is both critically acclaimed for her talent and virtuosity and condemned for the radical nature of her themes. Acker, a native New Yorker, was born in 1948 to affluent German-Jewish parents. Her father deserted her mother before she was born, and Acker’s relationship with her mother (who committed suicide in the mid-1970s) was at best troubled. After attending college in Boston, Acker graduated with a bachelor


of arts degree from the University of California at San Diego in 1968. During the 1970s, she lived in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, and in London in the 1980s, and authored several novels under the name “the Black Tarantula.” She first drew significant public attention with Blood and Guts in High School, published in 1984. Unconventional and shocking, the novel, featuring a diseased sex addict, reflects the pornographic and violent subject matter that became her trademarks. In such early novels as The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula: Some Lives of Murderesses (by the Black Tarantula) (1973), Acker intentionally uses characters, circumstances, and even entire passages from books by other writers, including Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, Miguel Cervantes’s Don Quixote, and Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. The first of Acker’s novels to attract serious attention from reviewers and critics, also called Great Expectations, opens with a passage from the Dickens novel and—to the surprise of those readers familiar with the original—suddenly features a modern reading of tarot cards and the not very Dickensian depiction of blunt sexuality. As poet and critic Robert Lort suggests, Acker derives a great deal of her technique from film and music, and thus readers might best understand her writing by identifying such strategies as montage, dubbing, and nonlinear concept of time. Like so many other post-Beat, postmodern writers, Acker sought to disrupt the conventionalities of fiction, particularly the separate relationships among writer, character, and reader: her aim was to have the “writer become character and the character the writer, so that the reader is no longer disconnected, sidelined from the text, but physically immersed in the text” (Lort). Acker’s experimental writing, she has said, owes a debt to both Jean Genet and William S. BURROUGHS. Acker’s work reflects Burroughs’s frank depiction of sex and violence as well as his so-called cut-up method, which randomly rearranges and inserts into his own writing numerous words, sentences, and even lengthy passages from William Shakespeare and Jack KEROUAC. Acker has also been inspired by French novelists Alain Robbe-Grillet and Marguerite Duras and radical philosophers Gilles

Deleuze and Felix Guattari and, earlier in her career, by the Black Mountain School of poets. In DON QUIXOTE, Acker updates the 17th-century Spanish literary classic by replacing Cervantes’s male protagonist with a postmodern female (and her talking dog) who understands the fictitious nature of identity and chivalry. Empire of the Senseless, Acker’s 1988 novel, is set in a postmodern decaying Paris, a city sick with violence, patriarchy, and terrorism. IN MEMORIAM TO IDENTITY examines the life of French poet Arthur Rimbaud, while Pussy, King of the Pirates, is Acker’s updating of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. It features two prostitutes on a treasure hunt and a band of women pirates. The novel is characterized by a surreal fusion of influences as disparate as Hindu myths, pornography, and Treasure Island. Acker also wrote the text for The Birth of the Poet, the opera by her husband, composer Peter Gordon, as well as the screenplay for the film Variety, directed in 1985 by Betty Gordon. Kathy Acker was adjunct professor at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1991 until her death from breast cancer on November 30, 1997, in Tijuana, Mexico.

NOVELS The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec by Henri Toulouse Lautrec. New York: TVRT Press, 1978. Algeria. London: Aloes, 1985. Blood and Guts in High School. New York: Grove Press, 1984; as Blood and Guts in High School Plus Two (includes Great Expectations, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s My Life My Death). London: Picador, 1984. The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula; Some Lives of Murderesses (Black Tarantula, pseud.). New York: Vanishing Rotating Triangle Press, 1975. Don Quixote: Which Was a Dream. New York: Grove Press, and London: Paladin, 1986. Empire of the Senseless. New York: Grove Press; London: Picador, 1988. Great Expectations. San Francisco: Re/Search Productions, 1982. Hello, I’m Erica Long. New York: Contact II, 1984. In Memoriam to Identity. New York: Grove Press, and London: Pandora Press, 1990. Kathy Goes to Haiti. New York: Rumour Publications, 1978; in Young Lust, London: Pandora Press, 1989. My Mother: Demonology. New York: Pantheon, 1993.


Portrait of an Eye: Three Novels. New York: Pantheon, 1992. Young Lust. London: Pandora, 1989.

SOURCES Friedman, Ellen G. “A Conversation with Kathy Acker,” Review of Contemporary Fiction 9, no. 3 (1989): 12–22. Pitchford, Nicola. Tactical Readings: Feminist Postmodernism in the Novels of Kathy Acker and Angela Carter. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 2002. Special Kathy Acker Issue. The Review of Contemporary Fiction 9 (Fall 1989).

OTHER Acker, Kathy. “Kathy Acker (1947–1997).” Bohemian Ink. Available online. URL: http://www.levity.com/corduroy/ acker.htm. Accessed May 15, 2005. Acker, Kathy. “Kathy Acker: Where Does She Get Off?” Interview by R. U. Sirius. io magazine. Available online. URL: http://www.altx.com/io/acker.html. Accessed May 15, 2005.

ADAMS, ALICE (1926–1999)

Alice Adams, one of those rare writers admired equally for her achievements in the novel and the short story, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1975 for her novel Families and Survivors (1974). Her novel Superior Women (1984) was a best-seller. In 1982, after her work appeared for the 12th consecutive year in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, Adams joined Joyce Carol OATES and John UPDIKE as winners of awards for continuing achievement. Her novels have earned praise from reviewers and such fellow writers as Anne TYLER and Updike and have been alternate selections in both the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Literary Guild. Love, in all its forms, is Adams’s subject. Her female characters must overcome difficult circumstances to carve a niche for themselves in a sometimes hostile world. Although men play important roles in Adams’s novels, the protagonists are usually women seeking self-definition, often through channeling their talents into work outside the home in a post–World War II world. Adams’s work, compared often to the southern essence of Flannery O’CONNOR and the sophisticated style of F. Scott FITZGERALD, is also similar thematically to that of her British contemporaries, Iris Murdoch and Anita Brookner. They also write about love in its myr-

iad forms, although Adams is clearly more optimistic than Brookner. Born in 1926 in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Adams grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1946. Married that same year, Adams divorced her husband in 1958, published her first short story in 1959, and supported herself and her son through clerical and secretarial work. Although she was 30 when she published that first short story, Adams did not actually make a living through her writing until she was more than 40. The settings of her novels echo those of her life: the South, New England, and the Bay Area of California. Her first novel, Careless Love (1966), details protagonist Daisy Duke’s successful quest for happiness with a new lover. With him she can forget her disappointments with both her husband and a previous lover. The three novels that followed, Families and Survivors (1974), Listening to Billie (1978), and Rich Rewards (1980), established her reputation as a talented and serious novelist. Families and Survivors focuses on three decades in the life of Louisa Calloway, a privileged southern woman, and her friendships with men (a psychiatrist and a failed writer who becomes an English professor) and women who see her through various crises. Deriving its title from reminiscences of a Billie Holiday performance, Listening to Billie follows selected moments in the lives of half sisters Daria and Eliza Hamilton Quarles, the former a widow and the latter a divorcee. Rich Rewards ends on a note of hope when Daphne Matthiessen reunites with Jean-Paul, the Frenchman she had loved 20 years earlier. Discussions of Superior Women invite comparison with Mary McCARTHY’s The GROUP, although McCarthy’s novel focuses on the lives of eight Vassar women in the 1930s, and Adams’s describes the situations of four Radcliffe women from the 1940s through the Civil Rights movement and Watergate. When Adams published Second Chances in 1988, turning her attention to 60-year-old characters facing the prospect of old age, worsening health, and precarious futures, she earned praise for her complex plotting, timing, and seamlessly artistic style. The characters are lonely, even though none lacks kind and supportive friends and lovers.


With Caroline’s Daughters (1991), Adams created a large and complicated cast of characters: the protagonist Caroline and her third husband, Ralph, return to San Francisco from a five-year stay in Lisbon. Caroline immediately becomes immersed in the lives of her five daughters, most of whom were 1960s radicals who have become selfish and spoiled, and she endures and survives the death of Ralph. As many critics have noted, the novel richly details 1990s San Francisco: from its trendy restaurants to its AIDS victims and homeless people. Almost Perfect (1993), another San Francisco novel, focuses on the seemingly perfect romance between Stella Blake and Richard Fallon, a good-looking and considerate man who likes to cook. As Stella’s journalism career takes off, however, the dark side of Richard quickly emerges, and Stella realizes that he is an alcoholic on the edge of insanity. In A Southern Exposure (1995), Harry and Cynthia Baird leave their Connecticut home, beset with debt, social obligations, and ennui, and relocate in the 1930s to Pinehill, North Carolina, a southern university town. This is an unfamiliar culture for the Bairds, and Adams subtly evokes the racism, sexism, and religious prejudices in this community. Her talent for replicating both dialect and character is obvious here. Her next novel, considered controversial, was Medicine Men (1997), an account of two women, Molly Bonner, widowed and diagnosed with a brain tumor, and her friend Felicia, both of whom become romantically involved with arrogant and self-absorbed doctors. This novel is based on the author’s own experiences with cancer; Molly, like Adams, recovers, but not before learning some unpleasant lessons about the practitioners of medicine. Adams died on May 27, 1999, in San Francisco. Her final novel, After the War, was published posthumously in 2000. It is the sequel to A Southern Exposure, and takes place in the last months of World War II and the early years of the Cold War. Harry Baird, now a navy captain, returns from the war, and both Cynthia and Harry confess that they have committed adultery. The Bairds’ daughter Abigail and her friend Melanctha go off to college, ready to challenge racism and anti-Semitism, and to flirt with communism. This novel prompted numerous critics to lament still further the

passing of Alice Adams, who, they and her readers hoped, would follow her characters into yet another Pinehill sequel.

NOVELS After the War. New York: Knopf, 2000. Almost Perfect. New York: Knopf, 1993. Careless Love. New York: New American Library, 1966. Caroline’s Daughters. New York: Knopf, 1991. Families and Survivors. New York: Knopf, 1974. Listening to Billie. New York: Knopf, 1978. Medicine Men: A Novel. New York: Knopf, 1997. Rich Rewards. New York: Knopf, 1980. Second Chances. New York: Knopf, 1988. A Southern Exposure. New York: Knopf, 1995. Superior Women. New York: Knopf, 1984.

SOURCES Flora, Joseph M., and Robert Bain, eds. Contemporary Fiction Writers of the South: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.

OTHER Gaitskill, Mary. “Alice Adams.” Salon Obituary (June 9, 1999). Salon.com. Available online. URL: http://salon.com/people/obit/1999/06/09/adams/index.ht ml. Accessed August 21, 2005. Sherwin, Elisabeth. “Adams Gives a Reading, Encourages Others to Write.” Printed Matter (July 14, 1996). Available online. URL: http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/go/gizmo/ alice.html. Accessed August 21, 2005.

ADAMS, HENRY (BROOKS) (1838–1918) Adams was born into one of the best-connected of American families. His maternal grandfather was a successful businessman; his paternal great-grandfather was John Adams (second president of the United States); his paternal grandfather was John Quincy Adams (sixth president); and his father, Charles Francis Adams, was a diplomat. After graduating from Harvard University and making the requisite tour of Europe, Henry Adams worked successively as secretary to his father, freelance journalist, and assistant professor of medieval history at Harvard. In 1872 he married Marian Hooper, daughter of a wealthy Boston surgeon, and, five years later, he decided on a writing career and moved with Marian to Washington, D.C. Adams wrote the nine-volume History of the United States during the Administrations of


Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (1889–91), still considered a classic text on the era, and his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams (1907), winner of a Pulitzer Prize. The name Henry Adams is practically synonymous with his famous autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, yet before devoting himself to histories and biographies, Adams wrote two novels during the early 1880s. The first, DEMOCRACY: AN AMERICAN NOVEL (1880), focuses on politics, reflecting Adams’s lifetime interest in political reform, and the second, Esther: A Novel (1884), on religion. Both works—the first published anonymously, the second pseudonymously— feature chaste ethical women protagonists at odds with the moral and social strictures of their worlds. Various critics have speculated that both protagonists—Madeline Lee in Democracy and Esther Dudley in Esther— were modeled on Marian, who committed suicide in December 1885, apparently depressed over the death of her father and perhaps also because of the oppressive restrictions on the women of that time. In Democracy, Madeleine Lee, an attractive widow, goes to Washington, D.C., to experience firsthand the lessons of democracy. Pursued by suitors who represent the American West and South, Lee rejects their proposals, for she believes that marrying a politician would compromise her personal principles, which Adams presents as morally superior to those of the men. Lee confronts the men about their dubious and often nefarious plotting and maneuvering, but with little effect, although the author ends the novel on an optimistic note by offering hope of future reform. Esther was published under the name of Frances Snow Compton. Adams was unhappy with the speculation about the author of Democracy. Since his long-range goal was to make his name as a historian, he did not want the public to associate him with novel writing. The fictitious Esther’s name owes its origins to another fictitious Esther: Nathaniel HAWTHORNE’s story, “Old Esther Dudley,” tells the tale of an old woman who, despite the American Revolution, clings to her allegiance to England and the king. Adams’s Esther is similar to Madeleine Lee in that she seeks meaning and purpose in life, although Esther hopes to find it in religion rather than in politics. Like Madeleine Lee, Esther Dudley is

wooed by men who make appealing offers, and, again like Lee, Dudley rejects the suitors and the lives they represent. Finding no satisfactory answers in marriage, technology, or religion, Esther withdraws and disappears. Not surprisingly, then, critics have noted that the unsatisfactory denouements for the women in both novels suggest Adams’s increasing fascination with the role and status of women in society. Earl N. Harbert sees both these novels as Adams’s initial attempts to develop a “theory of feminine force,” a theory that would see fruition in Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres, a book of medieval studies that celebrates the Virgin (Bishop, 37). Romulus Linney adapted Democracy and Esther into a play, published by Harcourt in 1973. Despite Adams’s conviction that he had made little impact on the fiction of the United States, contemporary critics agree on his unique and well-deserved place in American literary history.

NOVELS Democracy: An American Novel. New York: Henry Holt, 1880. Reprint, New York: New American Library, 1988. Esther: A Novel. New York: Henry Holt, 1884. Novels, Mont-Saint-Michel, The Education (contains Democracy, Esther, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres, and The Education of Henry Adams). Edited by Ernest Samuels and Jayne N. Samuels. New York: Library of America, 1983.

SOURCES Bishop, Ferman. Henry Adams. Boston: Twayne, 1979. Blackmur, Richard Press. Henry Adams. New York: Harcourt, 1980. Bloom, Harold. Henry Adams. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. Chalfant, Edward. Better in Darkness: A Biography of Henry Adams: His Second Life. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1994. Conder, John J. A Formula of His Own: Henry Adams’s Literary Experiment. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1970. Contosta, David R. Henry Adams and the American Experiment. Boston: Little, Brown, 1980. Decker, William Merrill. The Literary Vocation of Henry Adams. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990. Harbert, Earl N. Henry Adams: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978.


———, ed. Critical Essays on Henry Adams. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981. Hochfield, George. Henry Adams: An Introduction and Interpretation. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1962. Levenson, J. C. The Mind and Art of Henry Adams. Boston: Houghton, 1957. Lyon, Melvin. Symbol and Idea in Henry Adams. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1970. Rowe, John Carlos. Henry Adams and Henry James: The Emergence of a Modern Consciousness. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1976. Sayre, Robert F. The Examined Self: Benjamin Franklin, Henry Adams, Henry James. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1969. Stevenson, Elizabeth. Henry Adams: A Biography. New York: Macmillan, 1955.

OTHER Henry Adams (1838–1918): Classroom Issues and Strategies. Available online. URL: http://www.georgetown.edu/bassr/heath/syllabuild/iguide/ adamsh.html. Accessed August 21, 2005.

ADLER, RENATA (1938– )

As an outspoken critic of the hypocrisy, posturing, and pretension that for her characterize many postmodern writers, Renata Adler—journalist, essayist, and short-story writer—turned to novel writing herself. Speedboat (1976), her first novel, was a runner-up for the 1977 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, and winner of the 1976 Ernest Hemingway Prize for best first novel, although some critics argue over whether Speedboat’s apparently arbitrary structure and plot, and its randomly organized grouping of stories, does in fact constitute a novel. Together with her second novel, the critically acclaimed Pitch Dark (1983), Adler has staked out a position along the edge of the bleak, disjunctive, and disturbing modern world she portrays. Both novels, however, avoid the sometimes apocalyptic shrieks of despair and victimhood associated with postmodernism. Although critics have continued to align Adler with the postmodernist movement, she resists such identification, believing that her own fictional methods—unlike modernist and postmodernist approaches—manage to convey real feeling and compelling emotion. Adler portrays her contemporary urban environment through a relatively dispassionate lens, implying

that there are equally possible outcomes: optimism and despair. Like the American poet Emily Dickinson, Adler tries to “tell the truth, but tell it slant,” and to transfer the burden of deduction and comprehension from author to reader. In this regard, one might compare Adler with Edith Wharton, who wrote poignantly about strong passion and emotion while exhorting her readers to fill in the gaps. In Speedboat, for instance, the 35-year-old protagonist, Jen Fain, attempts to impose order and discipline on the seemingly unrelated discrete incidents of her life, including a fast-paced speedboat ride that ends with a jarring bounce that breaks the young woman’s back. Critics note that Jen Fain shares a number of autobiographical similarities with Adler herself, including age and era. Fain uses storytelling as a means of imposing discipline and order on, and instilling meaning into, her life. A solitary first-person narrator also relates the events of Adler’s second novel, Pitch Dark. Here Adler narrows the focus to the feelings of Kate Ennis, whose recently ended love affair has cast her into her own personal realm of darkness. Like Jen Fain of Speedboat, Kate Ennis has been compared to her creator; critics note the similarities between the pseudonyms Kate briefly adopts (Hadley, Alder) and the name Adler. They find her propensity to tell a story through fragments and peripheral images, for instance the fate of a dying racoon, to be both compelling and effective. And despite the pain of Kate’s loss and the indirect slant in telling her story, the Adlerian point of view remains: rather than stay trapped, her character is attempting to better her life despite the fragmented condition of postmodern existence. By the time she published Pitch Dark, Adler had earned her law degree (a J.D. from Yale in 1972), and she turned from fiction to nonfiction as she battled the untruths and unethical behavior of powerful institutions. Her controversial but frequently praised works include Reckless Disregard (1986), an analysis of lawsuits against the media; Politics and Media: Essays (1988), a collection of political and cultural criticism; Gone: The Last Days of the New Yorker (1999), a critical history of that magazine; and Private Capacity (2000), a portrait of the international Bilderberg Group. Born on October 19, 1938, in Milan, Italy, to Frederick L. and Erna (Straus) Adler, Adler earned an A.B.


in 1959 from Bryn Mawr College; le diplôme d’études supérieures in 1961 from the Sorbonne; and an M.A. from Harvard University in 1962. Adler was a New York Times film critic from 1968 to 1969 and worked intermittently as a writer and reporter for the New Yorker over a 20-year period. After publishing articles and stories with such magazines as Vanity Fair, Atlantic, and Harper’s Bazaar, Adler won the 1974 O. Henry Award before publishing Speedboat. In 1987 she was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

NOVELS Pitch Dark. New York: Knopf, 1983. Speedboat. New York: Random House, 1976.

SOURCES Corliss, Richard. “Perils of Renata, Pearls of Pauline.” National Review, 7 April 1970, pp. 369–370. Shattuck, Roger. Review of “Quanta,” New York Review of Books, 15 March 1984, p. 3. Sheed, Wilfrid. “Radical Middle,” New York Times Book Review. 29 March 1970, pp. 12, 14. Towers, Robert. Review of Speedboat. New York Times Book Review, 26 September 1976, pp. BR2, 1.

ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH, THE SAUL BELLOW (1953) Saul BELLOW’s third novel and winner of the National Book Award, The Adventures of Augie March, came easily to him. Indeed, says Bellow, he began the novel in Paris, writing in trains and in cafés, then moving to Rome: “The great pleasure of the book was that it came easily. All I had to do was be there with buckets to catch it. That’s why the form is so loose” (Breit, 3). Yet Augie March remains, especially for Bellow scholars, a significant turning point in his fictional techniques. Whereas his earlier novels Dangling Man (1944) and The Victim (1947) embrace, in the words of scholar and critic Robert F. Kiernan, “the cerebral style and Europeanized weltschmerz” of a more formal modernism (Kiernan, 40), The Adventures of Augie March seems by comparison an unrestrained, expansive, exuberant novel in the picaresque tradition of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749). Yet it has unmistakable ties with 20th-century naturalism, particularly in its evocation of the grim poverty in which the young Chicago-born Augie March is raised, evoking the work

of Theodore DREISER, Frank NORRIS, Nelson ALGREN and James T. FARRELL. Bellow’s character, however, is no pawn of a deterministic world view: Throughout his odyssey and his adventures, the highly intelligent and rebellious Augie (scholar Frederick Karl calls him a “quasi-picaresque” [141]) is aware of the manipulative nature of the many acquaintances he meets along the way, and ultimately he refuses to succumb to either social convention or individual attempts to mold him into another’s image. The novel opens in Chicago, and moves through Michigan, Mexico, and the sea off Africa, concluding in Paris. On one level Augie, the first-person narrator, may be viewed as the colorful rogue or picaro: early in life he becomes proficient at feigning innocence and telling glib falsehoods in order to achieve his shortrange goals; he also becomes adept at finding ways to make easy money and to attract a variety of women. On another level, however, Augie refuses to be compromised in the ways that matter in the long haul and remains an optimist who puts weakness and failure behind him. Those readers who subscribe to this view differ from those who see Augie as an antihero, an ultimately pathetic individual whose philosophy is meaningless and whose existence is therefore without worth or purpose. Viewing the novel as a bildungsroman, the reader quickly sees that Augie’s education occurs through a series of meetings and relationships with a varied group of characters, each of whom would like to see Augie in his or her own image. Augie’s first mentor is Grandma Lausch, an elderly Jewish immigrant from Odessa, Russia, who boards with Augie’s family. She introduces Augie to the Horatio ALGER ideal, underscores the fluidity of American society, and advises him on ways to survive on the street. From the beginning, Augie proves resistant to the easy ways of climbing the social ladder as a path to prosperity, unlike his brother Simon, who learns Grandma’s lessons with alacrity and thus earns wealth and social respectability. To Augie, the “handsome and assertive” Simon, valedictorian of his class, is like a proud Iroquois, a Cincinnatus, the kind “who became the king of corporations” (29). From the perspective of scholar Gloria Cronin, however, Augie recognizes in Simon the composite of


“romantic models of masculinity” that are ultimately doomed to failure (Cronin, 92). In his last years of high school, Augie falls under the influence of William Einhorn, a man of great intellectual, business, and sexual energy: although his arms and legs are crippled, he manages several successful business ventures and has no trouble finding women proficient at satisfying his sexual needs. After high school graduation, Augie briefly attends college, but falls under the influence of Mr. and Mrs. Renling, who not only employ him in their fashionable saddle shop but also teach him the dress and behavior of the wealthier classes. When Mrs. Renling tries to adopt him, however, Augie flees. In Detroit, he joins the gangster Joe Gorman in illegal immigrant smuggling and, back in Chicago, with his new friend Padilla, he engages in petty book theft. Cronin suggests that, although at this point he has not yet discovered his elusive, true identity, Augie has at least recognized one of the most significant facts about himself: “he is the product of entirely new social forces that have forged a different kind of American masculinity” (Cronin, 93). In this next Chicago phase, during the Great Depression, Augie is hired by his brother Simon, who has married into the wealthy Magnus family. Simon provides a job for Augie in the coal plant given to him by his new father-in-law. Augie once again dismisses someone else’s plans for him—this time his brother’s plan to have Augie marry into the Magnus family. Instead, Augie scandalizes the Magnuses by helping Mimi Villars, a fellow boarder, find an abortionist after her lover abandons her. When Simon fires him, Augie becomes involved with the wealthy Thea Fenchel, who is in the process of obtaining a divorce. He falls in love with her and moves into her house in Mexico; at her insistence, he hunts with a trained eagle named Caligula who clearly functions as a symbol of Augie himself. Thea believes Caligula is a “cowardly” bird because, like Augie, he balks at killing or hurting even the tiniest of creatures. Augie, however—perhaps because he has not yet rid himself of romantic illusions—interprets the eagle’s behavior as emblematic not of cowardice but of love. Augie extricates himself from this relationship by initiating an involvement with Stella Chesney, the mistress of an old friend.

Although initially hurt and disoriented by Stella’s subsequent angry abandonment of him, he returns to Chicago for the final chapters of his journey. Once again evading his brother Simon’s efforts to take over his life, Augie takes on several other jobs and, with the outbreak of World War II, enlists in the merchant marine. He finds that he has now fallen in love with Stella, and they marry on his first leave. When his ship is torpedoed, Augie finds himself trapped in a lifeboat with Basteshaw, a mad scientist who attempts to force Augie to become his research assistant in the Canary Islands. Rescued by a British tanker, Augie ends up, in the last chapter of the novel, residing in Paris with Stella and working for a black marketer named Mintouchian. He is still in love with Stella, despite her weaknesses, one of which, Augie discovers, is her involvement with yet another lover from her past. Determined to have a family, however, Augie is able to forgive Stella, able to laugh, ready to resume his quest, and is openly optimistic about his future: “Look at me, going everywhere! Why, I am a sort of Columbus,” he observes. “I may well be a flop at this line of endeavor. Columbus too thought he was a flop, probably, when they sent him back in his chains. Which didn’t prove there was no America” (536). Readers will determine for themselves whether they accept Augie as one who has profited from his life’s journey and, having seen the worst of the world, is at ease with himself, or whether, like some critics, they detect a note of anxiety in his account that undermines the apparently positive denouement. After all, one’s interpretation of Augie and his opportunities has much to do with one’s own vision of the American future. Bellow’s ending allows readers to struggle with their own interpretation.

SOURCES Bellow, Saul. The Adventures of Augie March. New York: Viking, 1953. Reprint, with introduction by Lionel Trilling, New York: Modern Library, 1965. Braham, Jeanne. A Sort of Columbus: The American Voyages of Saul Bellow’s Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984. Breit, Harvey. “A Talk with Saul Bellow.” In Conversations with Saul Bellow, edited by Gloria Cronin and Ben Siegel, 3–5. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994.


Cronin, Gloria. A Room of His Own: In Search of the Feminine in the Novels of Saul Bellow. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2001. Cronin, Gloria, and Ben Siegel, eds. Conversations with Saul Bellow. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994. Dutton, Robert R. Saul Bellow. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982. Gerson, Steven M. “The New American Adam in The Adventures of Augie March,” Modern Fiction Studies 25, no. 1 (1979): 117–128. Goldman, Liela H. Saul Bellow’s Moral Vision: A Critical Study of the Jewish Experience. New York: Irvington, 1983. Hyland, Peter. Saul Bellow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Karl, Frederick R. American Fictions, 1940–1980. New York: Harper and Row, 1983. Kiernan, Robert F. Saul Bellow. New York: Continuum, 1989. Rodrigues, Eusebio L. Quest for the Human: An Exploration of Saul Bellow’s Fiction. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1981. Saul Bellow: A Collection of Critical Essays. Edited by Earl Rovit. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1975.

ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN MARK TWAIN (1885) Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark TWAIN) began writing Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1876 immediately after he completed The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mightily attracted to the character of Huck, who becomes a more complete and complex character in the final chapters of Tom Sawyer, Clemens wrote the first 18 chapters fairly quickly. The writing stalled in 1876: Clemens returned to Huck in 1880 and 1883 before completing the novel in 1884. His work on the novel was energized by his return to the Mississippi Valley during 1883. Though hailed for its humor (at times slapstick, at times biting satire), the book today is often banned in the United States because of its spotlight on race. Clemens presents a profoundly affective tale of institutionalized abuse and the psychological damage inflicted on a poor white boy and a black man by a society that endorses prejudice and violence. Race, however, is not the only issue worth examining. The story is set in the 1840s and is told from Huck’s point of view; his is the central consciousness, shaped by his various experiences within antebellum society. Huck is a deadpan narrator: He presents what he sees without judgment and analysis. The novel begins as a

continuation of the picaresque adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn: The early chapters focus on Tom Sawyer’s gang and various escapades, from a plot to ransom hostages to a raid on a treasure-laden caravan, which Huck sees in its reality as a Sunday school picnic. Pap Finn appears and threatens his son to gain the treasure Huck and Tom share and to reassert his control over his son’s life. However comfortable Huck becomes when he is back with his father and free of the Widow Douglas, he also knows too well the stress of physical and emotional abuse and is, at one point, willing to contemplate patricide to stop Pap’s alcoholic tantrums. The story changes direction after Huck flees from Pap and joins up with the runaway slave Jim. Once the two unite in an attempt to find some kind of freedom, the tale focuses on the state of race relations and the possibility for redemption in personal relationships. Jim watches over Huck, at one point keeping from him the fact of Pap’s death, and the two forge a relationship based on mutual protection and need. The question for readers becomes whether the white child who has been shaped by a virulently racist father and a social system that enforces inequality is able to form a genuine and lasting relationship with a black man. Conversely, there is also the question of whether a black man, schooled in the power of whites over blacks and in the ideology that argues for his inherent inferiority, is able to break the cycle of abuse that keeps him wary of society’s constraints. Neither Huck nor Jim has much experience with freedom, and both are continually at risk as their journey takes them further south and into the heart of slave territory. Huck’s and Jim’s isolation, first on Jackson’s Island and later during their time on the raft, is ultimately artificial and untenable. They are not able to sustain their existence separate from society. Huck’s extended time with the Grangerfords teaches him the futility of his hope to find peace amid human feuds. He is witness to the death of Buck Grangerford and sees a family wiped out because of a jealousy that no one quite understands. Later, with the arrival of the duke and the king, two con men in search of an easy mark, Huck is again witness to a killing (this time of old Boggs by Sherburn) and becomes involved in a plot to bilk the


Wilkes sisters of their inheritance. As the novel moves into its final third, Huck is powerless to prevent the duke and the king from selling Jim back into slavery. Each episode underscores the prevalence of physical and emotional violence and reinforces for Huck the value of being quiet and invisible when faced with adults more powerful and assured than he. His affection for Buck and Mary Jane Wilkes fails to help him find a voice. Even with the long time spent with Jim, Huck fails to assert himself when Tom Sawyer arrives at the Phelps farm and puts Jim through a painful and humiliating series of fictions in a vain and misguided attempt to release him from captivity. The final section of the novel, known as the evasion section, continues to cause readers pain and confusion. Why is Huck complicit in Jim’s humiliation? How is it that Huck so readily sets aside his relation with Jim to assuage Tom Sawyer? Why does he still hold Tom in high regard even when he finds out that Miss Watson has manumitted Jim and that Tom disregarded Jim’s free status to work one more practical joke? And what lessons should readers take from the story regarding racial and social justice or familial affection and friendship? In the end, Clemens tells a tale set during antebellum years but embedded within the social context of the post-Reconstruction 1880s. The tale is still relevant today. It is a book that vibrates with a concern for the disenfranchised and marginal. Jim, who has lasting moments of humanity, remains powerless to complete his dream of reuniting his family. Huck, seared by the ranting of Pap and familiar with justice as it is defined by a society that condones and is deeply complicit in the system of slavery, resorts to a fantasy of escape. His intention to “light out for the Territory ahead of the rest” in the book’s final paragraph underscores his inability to form lasting and complex emotional attachments. His sharp description of the social moment leaves readers shaking their heads. They want Huck to be better than he is able to be. And that hope may be at the heart of Clemens’s sense of our own inability to face the reality of the world.

SOURCES Chadwick-Joshua, Jocelyn. The Jim Dilemma: Reading Race in Huckleberry Finn. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998.

Doyno, Victor A. Writing Huck Finn: Mark Twain’s Creative Process. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991. Emerson, Everett. Mark Twain: A Literary Life. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. Leonard, James S., Thomas A. Tenney, and Thadious M. Davis, eds. Satire or Evasion? Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1992. Sattelmeyer, Robert, and J. Donald Crowley, eds. One Hundred Years of Huckleberry Finn. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1985. Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Edited by Victor Fischer and Lin Salamo. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. ———. Mark Twain’s Hannibal, Huck & Tom. Edited by Walter Blair. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969. Michael Kiskis

ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER, THE MARK TWAIN (1876) Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark TWAIN) published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876. The novel was Clemens’s sixth book, but only his second novel: Clemens’s earlier books were two collections of stories and sketches and two travel books, Innocents Abroad (1869) and Roughing It (1872); his first novel, The Gilded Age (1873) was written with Charles Dudley Warner, Clemens’s Hartford neighbor. Tom Sawyer marks Clemens’s first extended creative use of his memories of his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri. In the preface to the novel, Clemens wrote, “Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in.” The novel is still popular with both children and adults. Though it is often considered to be children’s literature, there is an undercurrent of satire in the story that is often unrecognized. The novel is also among those most often banned by school libraries in the United States. A case may be made that Clemens uses the novel to explore themes he introduced in earlier sketches, especially “The Christmas Fireside for Good Little Boys and Girls” (1865), “The Story of the Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper” (1870), and “Poor Little Stephen


Girard” (1873) all of which offer tales in which allegiance to social expectations is punished and immorality is rewarded. Clemens’s Tom, like the bad boys that populate the typical Sunday school fictions of the 1870s, is notorious for seeming to challenge community/adult moral expectations. The novel records the summer escapades of Tom Sawyer and his two friends, Joe Harper and Huckleberry Finn. Pivotal events include the murder of Dr. Robinson by Injun Joe, the trial of Muff Potter for that murder, and a search for buried treasure. Companion plot lines focus on Tom’s home life under the watchful eye of his Aunt Polly, the sister of his dead mother, which includes the episode of Tom’s hoodwinking local boys into whitewashing Aunt Polly’s fence as well as Tom’s transgressions at school; the boys’ adventure on Jackson’s Island, which results in the town’s belief that the boys have been drowned, and the boys’ return to interrupt their own funerals; and Tom’s courtship of Becky Thatcher and his rescuing Becky after they are lost in a cave during an outing. Perhaps most important of these is the exploration of Tom’s relationship with Huck Finn, the outcast son of St. Petersburgh’s town drunk, which both introduces Huck into the pantheon of Clemens’s primary characters and sets the stage for the sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). The novel is episodic. The story opens with an exchange between Tom and another boy from the town that establishes Tom’s standing within the children’s community. Tom’s attentions are diverted to the newly arrived Becky Thatcher and the need to capture her attention and affection. What follows is a twisting tale that allows Clemens to use the children’s escapades to mark the economic, ethnic, and social tensions present in adult society. Clemens very astutely uses the children’s world to mirror adult society: Like the adults, the children are concerned with class markers, set by categories of economic status and levels of literacy. Tom occupies the most prominent spot in the children’s hierarchy: His ability to gain material wealth in the fencepainting episode is reminiscent of an adult financial con game, and his ability to read and recall the plotlines of romantic stories allows him to keep an upper hand in his games with Joe Harper and sets the stage for his friendly dominance over an illiterate Huck Finn.

What at first seems to be a celebration of Tom’s rebellious streak is, by the novel’s conclusion, a more ambivalent description of a boy’s full induction into an adult world that prizes careful attention to social conformity. Tom is no rebel. He is mischievous, but he is also clearly committed to the overarching moral standards the town and the adult world use to gauge success. In the course of the novel, he steps up to identify Injun Joe as the real murderer of Dr. Robinson. This frees Muff Potter and makes Tom a hero in the town. But his fame depends on betraying his oath to Huckleberry Finn to protect their secret. The various acts that call attention to the foolishness of school or the paucity of church services do not undermine the basic authority of the adult world; instead, Tom is complicit in the work of reinforcing the town’s moral standards. At the end of the novel, he is rewarded for his actions to protect Becky when Judge Thatcher assures him of a position at a military academy and at law school. What better avenue toward power within the adult world! Most astounding is Tom’s treatment of Huckleberry Finn. At the close of the novel, Huck, who has shown his own heroism by saving the Widow Douglas from the wrath of Injun Joe, has run away from the Widow’s home because of her attempts to civilize him. Tom is sent after Huck. Rather than support Huck in his quest for freedom, Tom threatens Huck with exile if he does not return to the Widow’s home. While it is possible to read Tom’s actions as motivated by his concern for Huck’s welfare, the way Tom threatens and intimidates Huck demonstrates that he has learned adult lessons. He is more interested in forcing Huck to conform to adult society than he is in listening to the worries and concerns of a friend. Clemens, in the end, presents Tom as the bad boy who prospers by being complicit in a system that forces conformity: the adventures of Tow Sawyer are fully endorsed by the community; the boy becomes a full participant in the adult world.

SOURCES Emerson, Everett. Mark Twain: A Literary Life. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. Scharnhorst, Gary. Critical Essays on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Boston: G. K. Hall & Company, 1992.


Twain, Mark. Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays, 1852–1890. Edited by Louis J. Budd. New York: Library of America, 1992. Michael Kiskis

AGEE, JAMES RUFUS (1909–1955) In his relatively short life James Agee, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel A DEATH IN THE FAMILY (1957) and the short novel The Morning Watch (1951), demonstrated remarkable talent as a novelist, poet, journalist, film critic, and screenwriter. Critics have recently shown renewed interest in his film essays and his screenplays, which include The African Queen, written with director John Huston, The Night of the Hunter, and adaptations of two Stephen CRANE stories. Agee remains best known, however, for A Death in the Family and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), his nonfictional but literary documentation of the grinding poverty of Alabama tenant families during the Great Depression. Agee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1909. His father’s accidental death in 1916 profoundly affected him; this traumatic event is at the heart of Agee’s novel, A Death in the Family. Young Agee was sent to St. Andrews, an Episcopalian boarding school, where Father James Harold Flye made a lifelong impression on Agee’s spiritual and moral beliefs by convincing him that writers had a duty to reveal “truth.” Until his death, Agee attempted to do just that. Agee began to write seriously while attending Phillips Exeter Academy. During his years at Harvard, while studying with the literary scholar and critic I. A. Richards, he developed his commitment to crisp language and the use of active, first-person narrators. These literary and moral commitments are clearly evident in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, while The Morning Watch, as critic Victor A. Kramer points out, demonstrates Agee’s apparent desire to recreate artistically “an earlier time of felt emotion” (Kramer, 141). The Morning Watch, a novella-length bildungsroman, has often invited comparison with James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man. For months, Richard, the 12-year-old protagonist, has looked forward to spending the nighttime hours of Maundy Thursday and the early morning hours of Good Friday at the

boarding school chapel, hoping to prove himself devout and worthy through long hours of prayer. Although Richard’s religious emotions are genuine, secular preoccupations distract him during prayer, and, after leaving the chapel, Richard and two classmates disobey school rules and go swimming. In The Morning Watch, Agee poignantly demonstrates two realities within one adolescent: religious fervor and its inevitable diminishment. Agee’s finest popular and critical achievement remains the autobiographical A Death in the Family, a longer and more complicated novel than The Morning Watch, but one that apparently builds on many of the same techniques used in the earlier novel. Seven years in the writing and unpublished at the time of Agee’s death from a heart attack in 1955, A Death in the Family, with its story of a boy’s loss of a father and his journey to manhood, seems secure in its place in the 20th-century American canon. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, researched with photographer Walker Evans of Fortune Magazine, for which Agee also worked from 1932 to 1948, is not a novel. It is, however, particularly notable for its experimental use of techniques borrowed from poetry, drama, music, and religion, and for the searing revelations of poverty that it brought before the American reading public.

NOVELS A Death in the Family. New York: McDowell, Obolensky, 1957; London: Gollancz, 1958. The Morning Watch. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1951. Reprint, London: Secker & Warburg, 1952.

SOURCES Barson, Alfred T. A Way of Seeing: A Critical Study of James Agee. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1972. Bergreen, Lawrence. James Agee: A Life. New York: Dutton, 1984. Kramer, Victor A. James Agee. Boston: Twayne, 1975. Larsen, Erling. James Agee. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1971. Lofaro, Michael A., ed. James Agee: Reconsiderations. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992. Lowe, James. The Creative Process of James Agee. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994. Madden, David, ed. Remembering James Agee. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974.


Moreau, Genevieve. The Restless Journey of James Agee. New York: Morrow, 1977. Ohlin, Peter H. Agee. New York: Obolensky, 1966. Seib, Kenneth. James Agee: Promise and Fulfillment. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1968.

AGE OF INNOCENCE, THE EDITH WHAR(1920) Edith WHARTON’s The Age of Innocence continues to invite a wide range of analyses. The novel examines the triangle between Ellen Olenska, her cousin May Welland, and May’s husband, Newland Archer, against the background of upper-class society in 1870s New York. It considers not only the nature of love and the emotions of its central characters but also the late 19th-century social conditions and rigid conventions that operate so powerfully in their private lives. The 1921 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel starts with May’s engagement to the eligible Newland Archer and with Ellen’s return to her childhood environment in order to begin divorce proceedings against her European husband, Count Olenska. Although the Welland and Archer families ostensibly support Ellen’s decision to be independent, the family strongly advises her against an embarrassing and financially unwise divorce. Ellen endears herself to the nonconformists in her family such as Granny Mingott and Aunt Medora, but polite New York society disapproves of her. Her childhood playmate, Newland, becomes her legal adviser and admirer; he falls in love with her, but the inexorable pressure of convention compels him to follow through on his promise to marry May. When Newland considers leaving his young wife, May tells Ellen that she is pregnant, and Ellen arranges to return to Europe so that Newland will no longer be tempted by her. Many years later, Newland’s adult son persuades his father, now widowed, to go to Paris with him. When they arrive for a meeting with Ellen, Newland chooses to remain on a park bench gazing up at her apartment window. Wharton thus closes the novel by projecting Ellen as the powerful eternal woman, a vision that appears above the dreaming, immovable man. Wharton’s contemporaneous critics judged the novel outstanding for its characterization, setting, and treatment of cultural innocence. Carl Van Doren perceptively recognizes the conventions that bind Ellen


Olenska, May Welland, and Newland Archer and concludes from the novel that “the unimaginative not only miss the flower of life themselves but they shut others from it as well” (quoted in Tuttleton, 287). William Lyon Phelps draws attention to the novel’s use of Wharton’s background in landscape gardening and interior decorating and points to the “absolute imprisonment” in which the “characters stagnate” (quoted in Tuttleton, 284–285). Henry Seidel Canby praises the novel’s portrayal of society and declares that Wharton “lets us formulate inductively the code of America” (quoted in Tuttleton, 287–288). Later formalist assumptions of the New Criticism disconnect The Age of Innocence from its historical precedents and analyze its structure and form as a well-made novel. For example, Charles Clay Doyle traces the novel’s floral motifs, while Elizabeth Evans explores the musical allusions; and Viola Hopkins analyzes the syntax, diction, and imagery. More recent scholars look to the societal influences and potential biographical links. Some scholars regard the novel as a longing remembrance of a better time, while feminist criticism examines Wharton’s narrative strategy. Wharton’s biographer, R. W. B. Lewis, surmises that Wharton was disturbed by postwar America and that “the impression grew in her that something crucially valuable had been lost,” and therefore she “went in search, imaginatively, of the America that was gone” (424). Cynthia Griffin Woolf describes the novel as “a nostalgic act” (310). Elizabeth Ammons, however, concludes that it is a novel of “fear.” She argues that Newland and his fellow old New Yorkers are “so afraid of Ellen Olenska, a sophisticated, sexually exciting woman, that they end up literally banishing her from New York” (143). Other critics see the novel as emerging from Wharton’s response to a cultural network that denied women freedom of expression. Carol Singley points to the tension between the world views of staid traditionbound New Yorkers and those “in the dynamic life of Ellen Olenska” (165). Similarly, Shari Benstock evaluates the novel as “perhaps the most brilliant portrait of expatriated womanhood” (159). In contrast to the critics who focus on Ellen, Susan Goodman judges May to be the “novel’s true heroine” because she is caught in a



world of deception; further, Goodman argues that May and Ellen provide another example of Wharton’s “paired heroines” (100–101). Finally, Carol Wershoven observes that May is “the childbride, a product of an economic system become secret religion” (155). As important as these and other recent insights may be, The Age of Innocence also demonstrates both Wharton’s literary and scientific authority and her awareness of and response to general intellectual history. Its examination of individual will and cultural determinism portrays the economic and political conditions that Wharton observed around her after World War I. Women’s roles were beginning to change, the doctrine of their subordination was being more widely questioned, and there was a growing consciousness of the way in which social and economic forces offset individuals. The novel focuses on the principles of economic activity that underlie the social order as well as the complexities of moral decision making. It argues that Old New York uses women as another medium of exchange and that this cold reality undergirds society’s structure. Because of Ellen’s specific difference, her ancestors and atypical childhood, she is able to act as she chooses. To the clan, this aberration becomes a case, an illegality that must be adjudicated by Archer, the lawyer. When Ellen resists the doctrines that subordinate women, she disrupts the patriarchal assembly line; she interrupts the economy. The novel offers a tale of Old New York written through the author’s post–World War I consciousness. It challenges the supposed high morality of her late 19th-century predecessors and shows that their world was actually fraught with conflicts and discontent. Wharton notably set the novel in the 1870s, a time when Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871) still stirred interest. Wharton, however, moves away from the gender hierarchy that Darwin perpetuates. The opening scene describes the real cultural attitudes, “a playful allusion” to democratic principles that conflict with Ellen’s and Newland’s belief that “women ought to be free” (42). Newland explains to Mrs. Welland that Ellen returned to America believing that she “would be conforming to American ideas in asking for her freedom” (145). Ironically Ellen experiences a

sense of being the “other” when she returns home to New York, and Newland feels “like a prisoner in the center of an armed camp . . . and guess[es] at the inexorableness of his captors” (335). Underscoring the complexities inherent in moral situations, however, Wharton does not indicate whether Ellen has broken a moral code or if she is merely the witness to and victim of her husband’s immorality. Furthermore, Ellen acts as a moral agent of change who has a favorable impact on individuals and thus strengthens the society.

SOURCES Ammons, Elizabeth. Edith Wharton’s Argument with America. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980. Benstock, Shari. No Gifts from Chance. New York: Scribner, 1994. Doyle, Charles Clay. “Emblems of Innocence: Imagery Patterns in Wharton’s The Age of Innocence,” Xavier University Studies 10, no. 2 (1971): 19–25. Evans, Elizabeth. “Musical Allusions in The Age of Innocence,” Notes on Contemporary Literature 4, no. 3 (1974): 4–7. Gargano, James W. “Tableaux of Renunciation: Wharton’s Use of the Shaughran in The Age of Innocence,” Studies in American Fiction 15, no. 1 (Spring 1987): 1–11. Goodman, Susan. Edith Wharton’s Women: Friends & Rivals. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1990. Hopkins, Viola. “The Ordering Style of The Age of Innocence,” American Literature 30 (November 1958): 345–357. Joslin, Katherine. Edith Wharton. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991. Lauer, Kristin O., and Margaret P. Murray. Edith Wharton: An Annotated Secondary Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1990. Lewis, R. W. B. Edith Wharton: A Biography. New York: Harper, 1975. Olin-Ammentorp, Julie. “Edith Wharton’s Challenge to Feminist Criticism,” Studies in American Fiction 16, no. 2 (Autumn 1988): 237–244. Raphael, Lev. Edith Wharton’s Prisoners of Shame. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991. Schriber, Mary Suzanne. “Convention in the Fiction of Edith Wharton,” Studies in American Fiction 11, no. 2 (Autumn 1983): 189–201. Singley, Carol J. Edith Wharton: Matters of Mind and Spirit. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Singley, Carol J., and Susan Elizabeth Sweeney. Anxious Power: Reading, Writing, and Ambivalence in Narrative by


Women. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993. Tuttleton, James W., Kristin O. Lauer, and Margaret P. Murray. Edith Wharton: The Contemporary Reviews. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Wershoven, Carol. The Female Intruder in the Novels of Edith Wharton. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1982. Wharton, Edith. The Age of Innocence. New York: Appleton, 1920; Reprint, New York: Scribner, 1970. Woolf, Cynthia Griffin. A Feast of Words. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977. Worby, Diana. “The Ambiguity of Edith Wharton’s Lurking Feminism,” Mid-Hudson Language Studies 5 (1982): 81–90. Sandra Chrystal Hayes

ALCOTT, LOUISA MAY (1832–1888) Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832, and reared during the “American Renaissance,” an era identified with such influential authors as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel HAWTHORNE, and changed forever by such significant women as Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott, who worked for women’s rights. Although Alcott published LITTLE WOMEN, an instant classic, in 1868–69, and subsequently wrote a variety of popular stories and novels for both adults and children, she appeals to contemporary readers because of the feminist context—often subversive in nature—in which we now read her work. Alcott’s “Little Women” books (eight in all) were highly autobiographical, inspired by her own unconventional New England childhood as the second of four sisters, the daughter of Abigail (Abba) May and Amos Bronson Alcott, the transcendentalist and educational philosopher and friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Her characters were drawn from Alcott’s own family members and friends. Alcott, whose realistic children’s novels are noted for their perceptive and highly entertaining accounts of childhood, is regarded as a pioneer because her fictional children are multidimensional, thinking individuals, a notion that seems self-evident to readers in the 21st century. Even Alcott’s melodramas, Civil War fiction, detective fiction, and feminist tracts have recently been reinter-

preted; they are now viewed as having a more adult and often rebellious subtext that covertly criticizes social codes for women. Alcott’s family resided primarily in Concord, Massachusetts, but her most vivid childhood experiences happened at Fruitlands, site of her father’s failed utopian experiment in communal living. His many causes kept the Alcott girls on the edge of poverty but were responsible as well for their good, if unconventional, educations. Louisa Alcott tutored Emerson’s daughter, Ellen, spent many hours in Emerson’s library, studied botany with Thoreau, and was exposed to new ideas including women’s suffrage, coeducation, and the abolition of slavery. When Alcott was 16, the family moved to Boston where jobs were plentiful. She supplemented her income by writing sentimental and sensational stories for such magazines as Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and The Flag of Our Union, and became a regular contributor to several periodicals, often writing under the pseudonym of A. M. Barnard. In 1858, Alcott’s sister Elizabeth died, her older sister, May, married, and the family moved into Orchard House in Concord, where they would live for the rest of their lives. When the Civil War broke out, Alcott, lonely and seeking an outlet for her “pent-up energy” (quoted in Keyser, 8) signed up as one of Dorothea Dix’s nurses at Union Hospital in Washington, D.C. She caught typhoid fever and returned home only six weeks later, but her experiences, published in the form of letters to her family in Hospital Sketches (1863), earned her both critical and popular success. She then published her first novel, Moods, in 1865, to mixed reviews because therein Alcott forthrightly raises the issues of divorce and its consequences. It is memorable principally because its protagonist, Sylvia Yule, is the forerunner of the tomboyish and rebellious Jo March of Little Women (Keyser, 11, 9). In six weeks during 1868, Alcott wrote the first volume of Little Women, transforming Anna, Louisa, Elizabeth, and May Alcott into Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, and Bronson and Abba Alcott into Mr. and Mrs. March (Marmee). Amazed by the overnight sensation of the novel, Alcott wrote a second volume in two months and published it as Little Women or, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, Part Second. Subsequently published as


one volume entitled Little Women, Alcott’s novel follows the four March sisters as they strive to improve upon their characters and become “good girls,” a recurring phrase in the novel. Frankly structured and influenced by John Bunyan’s allegorical Pilgrim’s Progress, the novel opened up a new scope for the traditional “family” novel, with children seen as human beings rather than as stereotyped examples of good and bad behavior and depicts a warmer, less restricted family life. The most dramatically interesting character is “rambunctious” Jo, whom Alcott’s depicts as initially rebelling against and later reconciling to her role as a woman. Little Women is Alcott’s masterpiece, but she followed its success with numerous popular stories and novels. She wrote three more novels specifically about the March family—Good Wives (1869), Little Men (1871), and Jo’s Boys (1886). Five additional novels are often grouped with Little Women as part of the “Little Women” series: An Old-Fashioned Girl (1870), Eight Cousins (1875), Rose in Bloom (1876), Under the Lilacs (1878), and Jack and Jill (1880). Here Alcott traces the lives of the March sisters, their families, and their friends, but they also deal with alternative educational techniques, women and marriage, the emergence of professional women, the mother-daughter bond, and the role of the husband and father. Alcott was also a prolific author of short stories for children, many of which were collected in a series of books entitled Aunt Jo’s Scrap-Bag. Her success as a writer brought her unwanted fame but desired financial security; for 20 years she continued to write and to provide for her mother, who no longer had “debt or troubles,” and other members of her family. A lifelong feminist, she was the first woman to register in Concord when Massachusetts gave women limited suffrage in 1879. Alcott never married, once remarking that writing seemed to be her intended companion for life. She died on March 6, 1888, leaving as her legacy four fictional daughters, beloved by her readers more than 100 years after her death. All the Alcott family papers are collected at the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

NOVELS Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott. Edited by Madeleine B. Stern. New York: Morrow, 1975.

Diana and Persis. Edited by Sarah Elbert. New York: Arno Press, 1978. A Double Life: Newly Discovered Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott. Edited by Madeleine Stern. Boston: Little, Brown, 1988. Eight Cousins; or, The Aunt-Hill. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1875. A Garland for Girls. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1887. Good Wives. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1869. Jo’s Boys, and How They Turned Out: A Sequel to “Little Men.” Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1886. Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo’s Boys. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1871. Little Women or, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, 2 vol. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1868–69; vol. 2 republished as Little Women Wedded. London: Low, 1872, as Little Women Married. London: Routledge, 1873, and as Nice Wives. London: Weldon, 1875; both volumes republished as Little Women and Good Wives. London: Nisbet, 1895; vol. 1 republished as Little Women: Four Funny Sisters, edited by Kathryn Lindskoog. Sisters, Oreg.: Multnomah Press, 1991. Meadow Blossoms. Boston: Crowell, 1879. A Modern Mephistopheles [published anonymously]. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1877. A Modern Mephistopheles [and] A Whisper in the Dark. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1889. Moods. Boston: Loring, 1864. An Old-Fashioned Girl. [A. M. Barnard pseud.]. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1870. Plots and Counterplots: More Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott. Edited by Madeleine Stern. New York: Morrow, 1976. Rose in Bloom: A Sequel to “Eight Cousins.” Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1876. Silver Pitchers [and] Independence, a Centennial Love Story. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1876. Under the Lilacs. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1878. V.V.; or, Plots and Counterplots. Boston: Thomes & Talbot, 1870. Water Cresses. Boston: Crowell, 1879. Work: A Story of Experience. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1873.

SOURCES Alcott, Louisa May. The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott. Edited by Joel Myerson. Boston: Little, Brown, 1987. Anthony, Katharine S. Louisa May Alcott. New York: Knopf, 1938. Arbuthnot, May Hill, and Zena Sutherland. Children and Books, 4th ed. Chicago: Scott, Foresman, 1972, p. 100. Bedell, Madelon. The Alcotts. New York: Clarkson Potter, 1981.


Cheney, Ednah D. Louisa May Alcott, Her Life, Letters and Journals. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1889. Elbert, Sarah. A Hunger for Home: Louisa May Alcott and “Little Women.” Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984. Fisher, Aileen, and Olive Rabe. We Alcotts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott’s Family as Seen through the Eyes of “Marmee,” Mother of “Little Women.” Boston: Atheneum, 1968. Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar, eds. “Louisa May Alcott.” In The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, 936. New York: W. W. Norton, 1985. Keyser, Elizabeth Lennox. Little Women: A Family Romance. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1999. MacDonald, Ruth K. Louisa May Alcott. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1983. Meigs, Cornelia. The Story of the Author of “Little Women”: Invincible Louisa. Boston: Little, Brown, 1933; reprinted with new introduction as Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of “Little Women,” 1968. Stern, Madeleine B. Introduction to Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott, edited by Madeleine B. Stern, vii–xxxiii. New York: Morrow, 1975. ———. Louisa May Alcott. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1950.

OTHER Louisa May Alcott: Teacher Resource File. Internet School Library Media Center. Available online. URL: http://falcon.jmu.edu/~ramseyil/alcott.htm. Accessed July 2005.

ALDRICH, THOMAS BAILEY (1836–1907) Thomas Bailey Aldrich was a poet, editor, and novelist of the late 19th century, who is today best remembered for a short story, “Marjorie Daw” (1873), and a novel, The Story of a Bad Boy (1870), based on his own childhood in New Hampshire. Aldrich’s sympathetic portrayals of youth invite comparison to those of such writers as Louisa May ALCOTT. Aldrich began his career as a poet, and by age 16 he had submitted and published poetry in the Portsmouth Journal. Aldrich had hoped to attend Harvard, but his family could not afford to send him to college, so he moved to New York City where an uncle offered him work as a clerk. Influenced by the New York literary bohemians, by age 19 he published his first collection of poetry, The Bells: A Collection of Chimes (1855), and in 1858, sold his first poem to the Atlantic Monthly. In quick succession he moved from a position as junior

literary critic of the Evening Mirror, to sub-editor of the New York Home Journal, to associate editor of the short-lived but much admired literary journal the Saturday Press, beginning a 35-year career as an editor. During the Civil War, Aldrich served briefly as a war correspondent for the New York Tribune, but by the end of the war his life changed directions: he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, became editor of Every Saturday, and married Lilian Woodman in 1865. In Boston, Aldrich became friendly with some of the leading authors of the day, including Longfellow and Nathaniel HAWTHORNE, and in 1868 he published his most famous novel, The Story of a Bad Boy, initially serialized in Our Young Folks, a magazine for children, and later appearing as a book. This influential novel helped shape the genre of young people’s fiction, was praised by William Dean HOWELLS, and influenced his friend Mark TWAIN. As Twain did in THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER and ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, Aldrich depicted young adventurous boys as they actually behaved. The semiautobiographical hero of The Story of a Bad Boy, Tom Bailey, for example, is realistically depicted as a boy with a tendency to get into trouble, and a precursor of Twain’s character, Tom Sawyer. Although Aldrich did not think of himself as a realist, his writing was influential in the development of the genre of realism in American fiction. His other novels include Daisy’s Necklace (1857), Prudence Palfrey (1874), The Queen of Sheba (1877), and The Stillwater Tragedy (1880). Aldrich continued to write and publish fiction until he succeeded Howells as editor of the Atlantic Monthly, America’s most influential literary journal, in 1881. From that point onward his duties took him down an editorial rather than a creative fictional path. He stopped writing after the death of his adored son Charles in 1904, and died in Boston in 1907.

NOVELS Daisy’s Necklace and What Came of It: A Literary Episode. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1857. Out of His Head: A Romance. New York: Carleton, 1862. Prudence Palfrey. Boston: J. R. Osgood, 1874. The Queen of Sheba. Boston: J. R. Osgood, 1877. A Sea Turn and Other Matters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1902.


The Second Son. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1888. The Stillwater Tragedy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1880. The Story of a Bad Boy. Boston: Fields, Osgood, 1870.

SOURCES Greenslet, Ferris. The Life of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1908. Samuels, Charles E. Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Boston: Twayne, 1965.

OTHER Arthur’s Classic Novels. “Writings of Thomas Bailey Aldrich.” Available online. URL: http://www.unityspot. com/arthurs/aldrich.html. Accessed July 2005.

ALEXIE, SHERMAN (1966– ) Sherman Alexie, winner of numerous poetry fellowships and awards, has garnered high praise for his fictional treatment of contemporary Native American reservation life. Equally renowned for his short stories and novels, Alexie also wrote the screenplay for Smoke Signals, the award-winning film based on his 1993 story collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. His novel Reservation Blues won an American Book Award in 1996. Alexie, born on October 7, 1966, to Sherman Joseph and Lillian Agnes (Cox) Alexie is a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian reared on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. He writes from his awareness of the poverty, alcoholism, and despondency suffered by many Native Americans. Much of this awareness springs from his own experience. Alexie’s usually absent father, an alcoholic, left him to be reared by his mother, who supported the family through the sale of her handmade quilts. Many of Alexie’s earliest years were spent reading every book in the Wellpinit school library, and in the eighth grade he decided to attend Reardan High School, located 32 miles outside the reservation. In 1985 he entered Spokane’s Jesuit Gonzaga University, where pressure to succeed drove him to his own problems with alcohol. Alexie transferred to Washington State University in 1987 to be with his high-school girlfriend, and there he began writing poetry and short fiction. In 1990 Alexie began to publish in Hanging Loose Magazine, and these achievements encouraged him to quit drinking and to

earn his bachelor of arts degree from Washington State University. He achieved both goals that same year. One of Alexie’s strengths is his ability to create vivid characters, several of whom appear first in his poetry and later resurface in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and Reservation Blues. These include a direct first-person narrator who is a young storyteller, Thomas Builds-the-Fire; Thomas’s friends Victor Joseph and Junior Polatkin; and Aunt Nezzy, whose heavy headdress symbolizes the woman’s ability to help her people by bearing a large part of their pain. In Reservation Blues the young friends, now in their 30s, acquire long-dead blues singer Robert Johnson’s magical guitar. With the guitar of the singer, the group forms a rock band and travels from Seattle to New York in search of both adventure and personal identity. In Indian Killer (1998), a murder mystery, Alexie’s central character prefers to kill by scalping his victims and leaving behind a pair of owl feathers. The story takes place in Seattle. After each murder, the Seattle citizens explode into violence, and racial prejudices are exacerbated. The Indian characters, on the other hand, represent different facets of Native American culture, and the novel is steeped in historical fact and Indian myths. Though the novel belongs to the mystery genre, it is marked—like most of Alexie’s writing—by the irony that surfaces in his characteristic if bleak humor, a traditional Native American cure for pain. Smoke Signals, Alexie’s first film, was a critical and a popular success, winning both the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy in 1998, and causing some critics to view Alexie as the Indian “Spike Lee” (Williams, Salon.com). Alexie wrote and directed the film The Business of Fancydancing, released by FallsApart Productions, which premiered in New York in 2002. It is based on his collection of short stories and poetry of the same name, published in 1992. With plans for making more films as well as writing more fiction, Alexie lives with his wife, Diane, a member of the Hidatsa tribe of North Dakota, on the Spokane reservation.

NOVELS Indian Killer, New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1996. Reservation Blues. New York: Grove/Atlantic, 1994.


SOURCES Alexie, Sherman. “An Interview With: Sherman Alexie,” by Renfreu Neff. Creative Screenwriting 5, no. 4 (1998): 18–19, 59. ———. “Sending Cinematic Smoke Signals: An Interview with Sherman Alexie,” by Dennis West and Joan West. Cineaste 23, no. 4 (1998): 28–31, 59. Cox, James. “Muting White Noise: The Subversion of Popular Culture in Narratives of Conquest in Sherman Alexie’s Fiction,” Studies in American Indian Literatures 9, no. 4 (1997): 52–70. de Ramirez, Susan Berry Brill. “Fancy Dancer: A Profile of Sherman Alexie,” Poets & Writers 27, no. 1 (1999): 54–59. Donahue, Peter. “New Warriors, New Legends: Basketball in Three Native American Works of Fiction,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 21, no. 2 (1997): 43–60. Gillian, Jennifer. “Reservation Home Movies: Sherman Alexie’s Poetry,” American Literature 68, no. 1 (1996): 91–110. Hafen, Jane. “Rock and Roll, Redskins, and Blues in Sherman Alexie’s Work,” Studies in American Indian Literatures 9, no. 4 (1997): 71–78. Jorgensen, Karen. “White Shadows: The Use of Doppelgangers in Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues,” Studies in American Indian Literatures 9, no. 4 (1997): 19–25. Marx, Doug. “Sherman Alexie: A Reservation of the Mind,” Publishers Weekly (September 16, 1996): 39–40. McFarland, Ron. “Sherman Alexie’s Polemical Stories,” Studies in American Indian Literatures 9, no. 4 (1997): 27–38. Myers, Kelly. “Reservation Stories with Author Sherman Alexie,” Tonic (May 11, 1995): 8–9. Purdy, John. “Crossroads: A Conversation with Sherman Alexie,” Studies in American Indian Literatures 9, no. 4 (1997): 1–18. Richardson, Janine. “Magic and Memory in Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues,” Studies in American Indian Literatures 9, no. 4 (1997): 39–51.

OTHER The Academy of American Poets Poetry Exhibits: Sherman Alexie. Available online. URL: http://www.poets.org/ search.php/fs/1/prmAuthor/sherman+alexie. Accessed August 21, 2005. Shermanalexie.com: The Official Sherman Alexie Homepage. Available online. URL: http://www.fallsapart.com/. Accessed May 17, 2005. Unofficial Sherman Alexie Fan Club. Available online. URL: http://members.aol.com/ptrleblanc/alexie.html. Accessed July 14, 2005.

Shermanalexie.com. “Official Sherman Alexie Biography.” Available online. URL: http://www.fallsapart.com/biography.html. Accessed May 17, 2005. “Without Reservations: Interview with Sherman Alexie,” by Mary Elizabeth Williams. Salon.com. Available online. URL: http://archive.salon.com/ent/movies/int/1998/07/ 02int.html. Accessed August 19, 2005.

ALGER, HORATIO (1834–1899) Horatio Alger’s more than 100 juvenile books told and retold the rags-to-riches stories that appealed so strongly to the American reader in the 19th century; they are responsible for his reputation as the best-known writer of boys stories in the field of American fiction. The term “Horatio Alger hero” has long been a metaphor for the ordinary citizen who, by dint of effort and will, achieves success in the United States, the land of opportunity and the home of the American Dream. Alger also wrote two adult novels, The New Schoolma’am; or, A Summer in North Sparta (1877) and The Disagreeable Woman, A Social Mystery (1895), as well as an unpublished novel-length manuscript discovered after his death (Scharnhorst, Horatio Alger, Jr., 59). At various times in his career, Alger used the pseudonyms of Arthur Hamilton, Arthur Lee Putnam, Carl Cantab, Julian Starr, and Charles F. Preston. Born in Revere, Massachusetts, to Olive Fenno Alger and Unitarian clergyman Reverend Horatio Alger, Alger graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College in 1852. After graduating in 1860 from Harvard Divinity School, Alger spent a year in Paris and worked as a private tutor in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On three separate occasions during the Civil War he volunteered to join the Union army but failed the induction physical because of his asthma and short stature. He became a Unitarian minister in 1864 but in 1866, faced with charges of pederasty, he resigned from the Unitarian ministry of Brewster, Massachusetts, and relocated to New York, where he would earn his living as a writer for the next three decades. He lived in New York until 1896, establishing his reputation through such books as Ragged Dick (1868), Luck and Pluck (1869), and Tattered Tom (1871). These individual novels led to three series of boys’ books with those same names, all published by the


Boston publisher A. K. Loring. Ragged Dick, first serialized in Oliver Optic’s magazine, Student and Schoolmate, in 1867, attained almost instant popularity. Dick Hunter, the youthful protagonist, is a New York bootblack whose ambition and hard work propel him up both the social and financial ladders of New York City. The details of Alger’s characters were supplied through his interest in the Newsboys’ Lodging House, founded by Charles Loring Brace: Alger formed a close friendship with the superintendent, Charles O’Connor, and subsequently interviewed a number of the boys on the intricacies of life on the street. Between 1880 and 1890, Alger informally adopted three boys who became models for characters in his novels: Charlie Davis (The Young Circus Rider [1883]), John Downie (Mark Mason’s Mission [1886]), and Edward J. (Tommy) Downie (The Odds Against Him [1889]). Alger wrote 119 books, including among the profusion of novels a collection of verse entitled Grand’ther Baldwin’s Thanksgiving with Other Ballads and Poems (1875), and biographies of such American statesmen as Abraham Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln, the Backwoods Boy [1883]) and Daniel Webster (From Farm Boy to Senator [1882]). Female characters seldom appear in Alger’s work, and only two of his novels have female protagonists: Helen Ford (1866) and Tattered Tom, whose title character is actually a girl dressing and living as a boy. Alger never married. When his health began to decline, he left New York to live with his sister Augusta in Maine and selected Edward Stratemeyer, a young editor at Munsey Magazine, to complete the 11 novels he had not yet finished. Stratemeyer was to form the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which published, among many others, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series. Although Alger’s work influenced many young people to believe they could rise above their stations, since his death in 1899, as Gary Scharnhorst points out, he has been variously interpreted as moralist, capitalist ideologue, or economic mythmaker (Scharnhorst, 65), depending on the era and political inclinations of the critics. Since his death in Maine in 1899, Alger’s papers have been housed at 10 public and university libraries, including the Library of Congress; Founders Library at Northern Illinois University is the official repository

for the archives and other papers of the Horatio Alger Society and includes more than 2,000 books and periodicals by and about Alger. Five separate Alger organizations have Web sites, and electronic versions of 11 of Alger’s novels are available on the Internet. In 2003 scores of his novels were being reissued in both hard and soft cover and listed for sale in bookstores and on numerous Web sites. The reading public continues to be fascinated with Alger’s success formula, which has been compared to that of Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard. Ultimately, however, Alger’s code seems more responsible, less selfish, and more altruistic than Poor Richard’s.

SELECTED NOVELS Adrift in New York; or, Dodger and Florence Braving the World, abridged ed. New York: Street & Smith, 1903; complete edition published as Adrift in New York; or, Tom and Florence Braving the World. New York: Street & Smith, 1904. Ben, the Luggage Boy; or, Among the Wharves. Boston: Loring, 1870. Bertha’s Christmas Vision: An Autumn Sheaf. Boston: Brown, Bazin, 1856. Brave and Bold; or, The Fortunes of a Factory Boy. Boston: Loring, 1874; republished as Brave and Bold or The Fortunes of Robert Rushton. London: Aldine, 1887. Cast upon the Breakers. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1974. Charlie Codman’s Cruise. A Story for Boys. Boston: Loring, 1866; republished as Bill Sturdy; or, The Cruise of Kidnapped Charlie. London: Aldine, 1887. The Cooper’s Ward. Gahanna, Ohio: Bob Sawyer, 1981. The Disagreeable Woman. A Social Mystery. (Julian Starr, pseud.). New York: Dillingham, 1895. The Discarded Son. Gahanna, Ohio: Bob Sawyer, 1981. Fame and Fortune; or, The Progress of Richard Hunter. Boston: Loring, 1868. $500; or Jacob Marlowe’s Secret. New York: United States Book Company, 1890. Republished as Uncle Jacob’s Secret or The Boy Who Cleared His Father’s Name. London: Aldine, 1890. Frank’s Campaign; or, What Boys Can Do on the Farm for the Camp. Boston: Loring, 1864. Republished as Frank’s Campaign. A Story of the Farm and the Camp. London: Aldine, 1887. The Gipsy Nurse. Gahanna, Ohio: Bob Sawyer, 1981. Herbert Selden. Gahanna, Ohio: Bob Sawyer, 1981. Hugo, the Deformed. Des Plaines, Ill.: Gilbert K. Westgard II, 1978.


Luck and Pluck; or, John Oakley’s Inheritance. Boston: Loring, 1869; London: Aldine, 1887. The Mad Heiress. Gahanna, Ohio: Bob Sawyer, 1981. Madeline, the Temptress. Gahanna, Ohio: Bob Sawyer, 1981. Manson, the Miser. Gahanna, Ohio: Bob Sawyer, 1981. Marie Bertrand: Gahanna, Ohio: Bob Sawyer, 1981. Mark, the Match Boy; or, Richard Hunter’s Ward. Boston: Loring, 1869. The New Schoolma’am; or, A Summer in North Sparta. (anonymous). Boston: Loring, 1877. A New York Boy. (Arthur Lee Putnam, pseud.). New York: United States Book Company, 1890. Phil, the Fiddler; or, The Story of a Young Street Musician. Boston: Loring, 1872. Ragged Dick; or, Street Life in New York with the Boot-Blacks. Boston: Loring, 1868. Republished as Ragged Dick! or, The Early Life of Richard Hunter, ESQ. London: Aldine, 1887. Rough and Ready; or, Life among the New York Newsboys. Boston: Loring, 1869. Republished with Rufus and Rose, 1870, as Rough and Ready: His Fortunes and Adventures. London: Aldine, 1887. Rufus and Rose; or, The Fortunes of Rough and Ready. Boston: Loring, 1870. Republished with Rough and Ready, 1869, as Rough and Ready: His Fortunes and Adventures. London: Aldine, 1887. The Secret Drawer. Gahanna, Ohio: Bob Sawyer, 1981. Silas Snobden’s Office Boy. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973. Strive and Succeed; or, The Progress of Walter Conrad. Boston: Loring, 1872; London: Aldine, 1887. Tattered Tom; or, The Story of a Street Arab. Boston: Loring, 1871. Republished as Tattered Tom, London: Aldine, 1887. The Young Miner; or, Tom Nelson in California. Boston: Loring, 1879. Republished as The Young Adventurer or Tom Nelson in California. London: Aldine, 1887.

SOURCES Bennett, B. Horatio Alger, Jr.: A Comprehensive Bibliography. Mt. Pleasant, Mich.: Flying Eagle Publishing, 1980. Nackenoff, C. The Fictional Republic: Horatio Alger and American Political Discourse. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Scharnhorst, Gary. Horatio Alger, Jr. Boston: Twayne, 1980. Scharnhorst, Gary, and Jack Bales. Horatio Alger, Jr.: An Annotated Bibliography of Comment and Criticism. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1981. ———. The Lost Life of Horatio Alger, Jr. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

OTHER Horatio Alger, Jr.: Frequently Asked Questions. Available online. URL: http://www.washburn.edu/sobu/broach/ algerFAQ.html. Accessed August 21, 2005. Welcome to the Horatio Alger Society. Available online. URL: http://www.ihot.com/~has/. Accessed August 21, 2005.

ALGERINE CAPTIVE, THE ROYALL TYLER (1797) A central but underappreciated figure in the emergence of American national literature, Royall TYLER (1757–1826) is probably best known for his nationalistic play The Contrast (1787), a fairly conventional comedy of manners distinguishing Yankee virtue from English vice. From a literary standpoint, however, his lone novel, The Algerine Captive, is a much more intriguing work. Tyler’s apparent intention in writing the book was to warn America’s democratic citizens of their dangerous capacity for ignorance and hypocrisy. In pursuing that goal, he produced an intriguing literary hybrid, blending the genres of picaresque satire, captivity narrative, and philosophical novel. The Algerine Captive recounts the travels of a fictional, first-person narrator, Doctor Updike Underhill, a well-meaning but naive and provincial Yankee. Tracing his heritage back to the Puritan migration and the founding of the colonies, Underhill stands as an American everyman, and Tyler uses him in the first volume of the novel to satirize both the pretentiousness of the emergent professional classes and the vulnerability and gullibility of the masses. Eventually, Underhill’s travels in volume 1 bring him into contact with some of the intellectual luminaries of the age. This device allows Tyler to comment, indirectly, on a range of political topics. Benjamin Franklin proves to be an admirable example of Enlightenment rationality and political pragmatism, for example, but the radical Thomas Paine is exposed as a shallow thinker whose ideas are driven as much by drink as by principle. Through all of these early episodes, Tyler’s humor remains broad and the tone of the book relatively lighthearted. The tone changes abruptly at the end of volume 1, however, when Underhill’s search for a stable living draws him into the trans-Atlantic slave


system as physician on a slave ship. Recognizing the massive contradictions inherent in the new American republic’s support of slavery, Tyler places his narrator in an equally compromised position, thus raising the moral stakes of the book. Charged with keeping as many of the slaves alive as possible during the horrific middle passage, Underhill, along with the reader, is forced to confront the hypocrisy of American political idealism. This painful moment of self-recognition sets the stage for the second volume of the novel. In the final chapter of volume 1, Barbary pirates attack Underhill’s vessel, and he finds himself taken to Algeria. The beginning of the second half of The Algerine Captive is marked by a clear shift in genre; we leave behind the lightly comic world of Underhill’s picaresque wanderings to enter into the stark literary landscape of the Barbary captivity narrative. Written during the 1790s and first decade of the 1800s, the Barbary slave narratives ostensibly deal with the enslavement of Christians by Muslims in North Africa. At the same time, these works (which include texts such as Susanna ROWSON’S 1794 opera Slaves in Algiers, or a Struggle for Freedom) provided American writers with a safer, more indirect way of critiquing the slave system at home. In volume 2 of The Algerine Captive, Tyler fuses this specific form of captivity narrative with another 18th-century literary genre—the philosophical novel—adding yet another layer of critical distance. One of the texts Tyler had in mind as a model was probably the Persian Letters of Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu, the French philosopher and jurist. That work centers on two Persian visitors to Europe, whose letters home provide a wide-ranging commentary on Western society, morals, and politics. In much the same vein, Underhill’s reflections on his captivity in Algeria provide an opportunity for Tyler to reflect on the institution of slavery and to comment on American society. Underhill becomes the centerpiece of such a critique in a series of heavily ironic episodes. Though he is unable to recognize his own intellectual and moral failures, the doctor’s naive sense of cultural supremacy is demolished in a series of debates with an Algerian mullah. Consequently, his critical commentary on Algerian history comes across to the reader as an implicit critique of European politics. Underhill’s

discussion of an Algerian lawsuit can be read as a lamentation about the influence of money and power in the American system of justice. Finally, his acknowledgment of the rapid breaking of his spirit in captivity offers a direct rebuttal to those apologists for American slavery who held up slave docility as evidence of natural subservience. By displacing some of the most controversial elements of his social commentary to North Africa, Tyler is able to offer a remarkably wide-ranging satire in the second half of The Algerine Captive. Though its lack of formal unity may trouble some contemporary readers, the novel should be understood as a sophisticated piece of comic writing. Clearly the work of an 18th-century mind, The Algerine Captive nevertheless raises issues of great importance both for 19th-century Americans (the problem of slavery) and for contemporary Americans (the dangers of ignorance and self-deception in a democratic society).

SOURCES Baepler, Paul. “The Barbary Captivity Narrative in Early America,” Early American Literature 30, no. 2 (1995): 95–120. ———. White Slaves, African Masters: An Anthology of American Barbary Captivity Narratives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999. Dennis, Larry R. “Legitimizing the Novel: Royall Tyler’s The Algerine Captive,” Early American Literature 9, no. 1 (Spring 1974): 71–80. Engell, John. “Narrative Irony and National Character in Royall Tyler’s The Algerine Captive,” Studies in American Fiction 17, no. 1 (Spring 1989): 19–32. Snader, Joe. “The Oriental Captivity Narrative and Early English Fiction,” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 9, no. 3 (April 1997): 267–298. Tanselle, G. Thomas. Royall Tyler. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967. Tyler, Royall. The Algerine Captive. New Haven, Conn.: College and University Press, 1970. David J. Carlson

ALGREN, NELSON (1909–1981) Nelson Algren adopted as his subject the impoverished and the down-and-out of the Chicago slums. Although he wrote of other locales as well, his National Book Award–winning novel THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (1949), as well as Somebody in Boots (1935), Never


Come Morning (1942), and A Walk on the Wild Side (1956) have firmly established him as the chronicler of drug addicts, swindlers, drifters, prostitutes, derelicts, and of the emotionally and physically handicapped. In the words of French writer Simone de Beauvoir, with whom he had a long and well-chronicled love affair, Algren was the “Division Street Dostoyevsky,” the realistic chronicler of the gritty Chicago streets where many of his fictitious scenes are placed. Algren believed that the vast American middle class had an obligation to pay attention to the unfortunate and the disadvantaged, and in The Man with the Golden Arm he gave eloquent expression to this idea. Born in Detroit and raised in Chicago from the age of three, Algren was able to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana because his older sister Bernice loaned him the tuition money from her teacher’s salary. After graduating with a B.S. in 1931, Algren hitchhiked and “rode freight” (jumped on a freight train for a free ride) from Minnesota to Florida to Texas, where he was jailed for several months for stealing a typewriter. Before being drafted into the army during World War II, Algren published Somebody in Boots, usually thought of as a Great Depression–era novel, and Never Come Morning, the first of his Chicago novels. Drawing largely on Algren’s youthful travels, Somebody in Boots features protagonist Cass McKay, last descendant of a family of Kentucky hunters. Cass wanders the country, observing and interacting with the whores, pimps, prisoners, dance-hall girls, communists, and socialists he meets on his travels from Texas to Chicago and back, always looking for his own place in the societal mix. At the end of the novel Cass is poised again to follow the open road, to find where it leads. Critics Martha Heasley Cox and Wayne Chatterton observe that Somebody in Boots belongs in the “road novel” tradition beginning in the late 19th century, continuing through the railways of Jack LONDON’s The Road (1907), John DOS PASSOS’s The 42nd Parallel (1930), and the highways of Jack KEROUAC’s ON THE ROAD and DHARMA BUMS (Cox and Chatterton, 61). The tradition continues into the contemporary era with such novels as Charles FRAZIER’s Cold Mountain, to name only one example. Never Come Morning, much admired by HEMINGWAY as a morally and psychologically complex “Chicago

Novel,” earned Algren the title of “Poet of the Chicago Slums.” Algren uses prizefighter Bruno “Lefty” Bicek, the Polish-American protagonist, to explore the condition of first- and second-generation immigrants, and to examine the plights and frustrations of similar young men and women who expect to die before age 21, victims of their urban environment. Although Algren’s last well-known novel, A Walk on the Wild Side, reiterates the themes of Somebody in Boots, here the protagonist, Dove Linkhorn, manages to prevail, despite the overwhelming odds. Without the Marxist rhetoric of the earlier novel, and with the addition of Algren’s characteristic dark humor, A Walk on the Wild Side helped seal Algren’s reputation as the chronicler of the Chicago dispossessed. Like the award-winning The Man with the Golden Arm, A Walk on the Wild Side was made into a feature-length film. Algren’s contributions to American fiction—and to the artistic use of naturalism and realism to evoke the plight of the poor—seem firmly established. He remains the heir of American writers like Carl Sandburg, Theodore DREISER, Upton SINCLAIR, and James T. FARRELL, usually called the “Chicago School.” Two years after his death on Long Island, New York, in 1981, the PEN American Center established the PEN/Nelson Algren Fiction Award. Algren was twice married—to Amanda Kontowicz from 1936 to 1939, and to Betty Ann Jones from 1965 to 1967. His love affair with Simone de Beauvoir lasted longer than either marriage.

NOVELS The Man with the Golden Arm. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1949. Never Come Morning. New York: Harper, 1942. Somebody in Boots. New York: Vanguard, 1935. A Walk on the Wild Side. New York: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1956.

SOURCES Algren, Nelson, Who Lost an American? New York: Macmillan, 1963. ———. Notes from a Sea Diary: Hemingway All the Way. New York: Putnam, 1965. ———. The Last Carousel. New York: Putnam, 1973. Beauvoir, Simone de. America Day by Day. London: Duckworth, 1952; New York: Grove, 1953. ———. The Force of Circumstance. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Putnam, 1965.


———. A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren. Compiled and annotated by Sylvie LeBon de Beauvoir, translations from the French by Ellen Gordon Reeves. New York: The New Press, 1998. Cowley, Malcolm, ed. Writers at Work: The “Paris Review” Interviews. New York: Viking, 1958. Cox, Martha H., and Wayne Chatterton. Nelson Algren, Boston: Twayne, 1975. Donohue, H. E. F. Conversations with Nelson Algren. New York: Hill & Wang, 1964. Drew, Bettina. Nelson Algren: A Life on the Wild Side. New York: Putnam, 1989. Giles, James Richard. Confronting the Horror: The Novels of Nelson Algren. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1989. Saccani, Jean-Pierre. Nelson et Simone. Monaco: Editions du Rocher, 1994. Shay, Arthur. Nelson Algren’s Chicago. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

ALICE ADAMS BOOTH TARKINGTON (1921) Although this book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1922, Booth TARKINGTON’s works remain on very few academic lists today. However, Booth Tarkington, born in Indianapolis in 1869, was quite popular during his lifetime. The Princeton-educated author lived more similarly to the upper-crust Palmer and Lamb families in the novel than he did to the would-be Adamses. Alice Adams first appeared in serial form in the Pictorial Review, a monthly aimed primarily toward women. Alice Adams exemplifies the literary realism movement of the 1920s, where characters’ aspirations did not always fulfill the American dream’s promise, their circumstances often influencing outcomes. However, characters might progress in alternative directions. Stylistically skillful, light, and facile, Alice Adams takes place in the early 20th century in a small industrializing town, typical of one in Tarkington’s native Indiana. Twenty-two-year-old Alice, proud and vain, attempts to improve her prospects through creative social climbing. Her accomplice, a domineering mother, manipulates her passive-aggressive invalid husband, only to undermine her mission to help snare Alice a husband whose social standing might elevate her own. Alice attempts to maintain her loyalty to her ridiculous sycophant of a father—whom Tarkington parodies—and appease her mother.

With charm, frivolous fabrications, and enigmatic statements, Alice captures, for a time, the attentions of Arthur Russell, a man of independent means and position. Meanwhile, her brother Walter rebels. Mingling with society’s marginal crowd, he finds the “colored people” more interesting than the “frozen faces” his sister and mother idolize. Where Alice and her mother see glamour, Walter observes artifice and boredom. Alice’s mother—whose first name Tarkington never reveals—lives through her daughter, who busily incubates their aspirations. It’s a no-win situation; Alice must deny “who she is”—that is, her family. Mrs. Adams barks, “Now you listen to me, Virgil Adams: the way the world is now, money is family. Alice would have just as much ‘family’ as any of ’em—every single bit—if you hadn’t fallen behind in the race” (210). But Tarkington beautifully describes a great equalizer: “Over the pictures, the vases, the old brown plush rocking chairs and the stool,—over the three gilt chairs, over the new chintz-covered easy chair and the gray velure sofa—over everything everywhere, was the familiar coating of smoke grime. . . . Yet here was no fault of housewifery; the curse could not be lifted . . .” (34). This “particular ugliness” is an equal-opportunity affliction. Alice “knew that she was unlikely to find anything better within a thousand miles, so long as she kept to the cities, and that none of her friends, however opulent, had any advantage over her” (35). Therefore, cleanliness was, at least in these parts, a virtue that money could not buy. Although no one dies, goes crazy, or commits suicide and although even the loose ends neatly tie, Alice Adams is, in a sense, a tragedy. It is not that life will not go on; it is that the characters may never realize their dreams (Broun). But the book has its humorous moments. Arthur Russell’s dinner visit is a comedy of errors. Hot soup, a plethora of etiquette faux pas, an incompetent servant hired solely for the occasion but instructed as regular help, and the sweltering evening keep things interesting. In 1935 George Stevens adapted Alice Adams into a film starring Katharine Hepburn. Therein, in the manner typical of depression-era Hollywood romances, Alice Adams manages to secure Arthur Russell. The novel demonstrated that social barriers permitted no


such conclusion. Denied the verity of her situation and the chance to face it, Hollywood’s Alice is less dynamic than Tarkington’s original. (Ms. Hepburn, in a later interview, reveals that she favored the novel’s original ending for the film but was overruled.) Among various motifs, flowers appear throughout Alice Adams. Unable to afford a corsage from a florist, Alice is determined to pick hundreds of violets for her bouquet to attend the party of socialite Mildred Palmer. The violets expire, “betraying her,” prompting Alice to do what she could to conceal them (90). Anticipating a visit from Arthur Russell, Alice arranges carnations. (Only when the flowers are completely exhausted, does he show up.) Roses provided for the Adamses’ ill-fated dinner for Arthur not only droop, the brussels sprouts’ powerful odor obliterates their scent. Other girls’ flowers never wilt; only Alice’s do. Russell’s lunchtime visit with the Palmers yielded a “fine rose” in his buttonhole after a garden stroll with Mildred, whom everyone expects Russell to marry (345). But as flowers wither, Alice rebounds. Just as flowers spring anew, so does her hope and resolve. Even when forced to choose her own path—after abandoning the idea of finding an eligible suitor—she sees reason to go on. Born in a world where a father’s or a husband’s status almost surely determined a woman’s fate, perhaps Alice emerges as a proto-feminist character. (The Nineteenth Amendment became law in 1920.) The women seem trapped in this model. Desperation forces them to lie and manipulate, but Alice sees other options. Alice’s gift is her resilience and a talent for continually reinventing herself.

SOURCES Broun, Heywood. “A Group of Books Worth Reading: ‘Alice Adams,’ ” The Bookman 54, no. 4 (December 1921): 394–395. Tarkington, Booth. Alice Adams. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003. Jill Arnel


A scholar and critic respected across the literary community, Paula Gunn Allen is also well known as a poet and

editor of Native American anthologies. She is, additionally, a writer heralded among Native people for her recording of Native stories and as a spokesperson for both gays and lesbians in contemporary society. Her influential novel, The WOMAN WHO OWNED THE SHADOWS (1983), validates the lesbianism of the young Native American woman who dominates the book. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1939, to E. Lee Francis, of Lebanese origin, and Ethel Francis, of Laguna Pueblo, Sioux, and Scots origin, Allen (then known as Paula Marie Francis) was reared in Cubero, New Mexico. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English (1966) and her master of fine arts degree in creative writing (1968) from the University of Oregon, then received her doctorate in American Studies in 1975 from the University of New Mexico. Three other writers from Laguna Pueblo are related to Allen—her sister, Carol Lee Sanchez, her cousin, Leslie Marmon SILKO, and Silko’s brother, Lee Francis. In The Woman Who Owned the Shadows, Ephanie Ataencio, the mentally ill main character, journeys toward a Native American spiritual tradition with the aid of Laguna Pueblo healing ceremonies, modern psychotherapy, the Iroquois story of Sky Woman, and the aid of a psychic white American woman. What really saves her is her acceptance of her tribal heritage and of her place in her tribe’s tradition. The novel parallels in part Silko’s CEREMONY, where the troubled protagonist, Tayo, also becomes reintegrated with his tribe after encounters with Native wise people, including Spiderwoman or Thought Woman. Allen’s other works include Spider Woman’s Granddaughters (1989), which won an American Book Award, and Grandmothers of the Light: A Medicine Woman’s Source Book (1991). Divorced from her husband, she teaches at the University of California at Los Angeles.

NOVELS The Woman Who Owned the Shadows. San Francisco, Calif: Spinsters Ink, 1983.

SOURCES Allen, Paula Gunn. Grandmothers of the Light: A Medicine Woman’s Source Book. New York: Women’s Press, 1991. ———. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986.


———. Spider Woman’s Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989. ———. Voice of the Turtle: American Indian Literature 1900–1970. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994. Bataille, Gretchen M., and Kathleen Mullen Sands. American Indian Women: Telling Their Lives. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984. Bruchac, Joseph. Survival This Way: Interviews with American Indian Poets. Tucson: Sun Tracks: University of Arizona Press, 1987. Coltelli, Laura. Winged Words: American Indian Writers Speak. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990. Hanson, Elizabeth I. Paula Gunn Allen. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 1990. Perry, Donna. Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out: Interviews. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1993. Ruoff, A. LaVonne Brown. American Indian Literatures: An Introduction, Bibliographic Review, and Selected Bibliography. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1990. Smith, Lucinda Irwin. Women Who Write, vol. 2. New York: J. Messner, 1994. TallMountain, Mary. “You Can Go Home Again.” In I Tell You Now: Autobiographical Essays by Native American Writers, edited by Brian Swann and Arnold Krupat. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

OTHER Storytellers: Native American Authors Online. “Paula Gunn Allen.” Available online. URL: http://www.hanksville.org/ storytellers/paula/. Accessed May 18, 2005. Voices from the Gaps: Women Writers of Color. “Paula Gunn Allen.” Available online. URL: http://voices.cla.umn.edu/ newsite/authors/ALLENpaulagunn.htm. Accessed May 18, 2005.

ALL I ASKING FOR IS MY BODY MILTON MURAYAMA (1975) Almost every scholar of AsianAmerican literature has acknowledged the brilliance of Milton MURAYAMA’s first novel, All I Asking for Is My Body, and its notable contribution to local Hawaiian and Asian-American literature. When All I Asking for Is My Body was first published it soon became an underground classic and later won an American Book Award. The first novel in Murayama’s planned tetralogy (which also includes Five Years on a Rock, 1994, and Plantation Boy, 1998), All I Asking for Is My Body is narrated by

Kiyo Oyama, the youngest son of a working-class Japanese immigrant family. The novel opens with eight-year-old Kiyo living in Pepelau during the early 1930s and ends with Kiyo volunteering for the allNisei regiment in Hawaii to fight in World War II. Part 1, entitled “I’ll Crack Your Head Kotsun,” introduces readers to the dynamics of the Oyama family: the tradition-bound Japanese immigrant parents, the rebellious older son, Tosh, the introspective and inquisitive Kiyo, and the slew of younger (and marginalized) Oyama daughters. The opening chapter focuses on the story of Kiyo’s friendship with an older boy, Makot. The Oyamas try to dissuade Kiyo from pursuing this friendship. Makot’s family is the only Japanese household in the Filipino section of the local sugar plantation, and he is deemed undesirable by the elder Oyamas, a mystery that is explained when Kiyo learns that his friend’s mother works as a prostitute. The parents’ insistence on Kiyo’s dissolution of his friendship with Makot demonstrates both the distinctions of status that they adhere to and introduces the theme of filial piety into the novel. In part 2, “The Substitute,” Murayama continues the history of the Oyama family: Kiyo’s father struggles to earn a living as a fisherman in Pepelau, while his mother sews kimonos to help supplement their meager income. Believing that the Oyama family is cursed and that she is doomed to die young unless she can find a substitute to take over the family’s bad luck, Kiyo’s mother reveals to her son the origins of the $6,000 debt that the family must pay off in order to save face and to retain their pride and dignity. This debt, first incurred by grandfather Oyama, symbolizes the tension in the novel between the older generation of Japanese immigrants who hold fast to the traditions of Japan and the generation of local Japanese Hawaiians who are growing up speaking three languages: standard Japanese, standard English, and pidgin English. In part 3, “All I Asking for Is My Body,” Kiyo comes to maturity. As his family moves from Pepelau to Kahana, Kiyo’s father finally gives up his fisherman’s life and goes back to working in the cane fields of the Mill Camp plantation. However, the family’s change of location only increases their debt, forcing Tosh and Kiyo to leave school after the eighth grade so that they can work in the cane fields. The politics of race, eth-


nicity, and class merge and play out against the backdrop of the plantation system. The Oyama family is oppressed financially, first under the system of Japanese custom that dictates filial piety toward the father and his family, (which is the reason they feel forced to take over grandfather Oyama’s debt), and then under the system of plantation hierarchy (which divides the workers by race and ethnicity from uniting together for better wages). Tosh, as the rebellious eldest son, continually questions his parents’ values and their subservience to both Japanese customs and the plantation system. Kiyo, influenced by the radical teachings of his junior high school teacher, Snooky, also begins to understand that until he leaves the plantation, he will never be free from the cycle of poverty and debt that has plagued his family. As the novel ends, the bombing of Pearl Harbor paralyzes the Japanese Hawaiian community; despite his mother’s pleas for Kiyo to remain with the family, he volunteers as a way to serve his country and prove his loyalty and as a means of escape from the stifling plantation system. A deus ex machina in the form of a pair of dice allows him to win $6,130 dollars in a craps game, finally freeing the family from their filial obligation—and more important, freeing himself to pursue a life outside the islands, as he sets out for the European theater of war.

SOURCES Murayama, Milton. All I Asking for Is My Body. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1988. ———. “Bamboo Ridge Letter to the Editor,” Bamboo Ridge 5 (1979): 6–7. ———. “Problems of Writing in Dialect and Mixed Languages,” Bamboo Ridge 5 (1979): 8–10. Odo, Franklin. Afterword, “The Hawaii Nisei: Tough Talk and Sweet Sugar,” to All I Asking for Is My Body, 105–110. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1988. Palomino, Harue. “Japanese Americans in Books or in Reality? Three Writers for Young Adults Who Tell a Different Story.” In How Much Truth Do We Tell Children? The Politics of Children’s Literature, edited by Betty Bacon, 125–134. Minneapolis, Minn.: MEP Publications, 1988. Romaine, Suzanne. “Hau fo rait pijin: Writing in Hawai’i Creole English,” English Today 10 (1994): 20–24. Sumida, Stephen. “Hawaii’s Complex Idyll: All I Asking for Is My Body and Waimea Summer.” In And the View from the

Shore: Literary Traditions of Hawai’i, edited by Stephen H. Sumida, 110–163. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991. Jennifer Ho



E. (1949– )

Dorothy Allison has made a name for herself by writing about the impoverished white southerners among whom she was reared. After attracting favorable attention with Trash (1988), her short-story collection, and The Women Who Hate Me (1991, a poetry collection aimed particularly at the gay and lesbian community, Allison published the novel, BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA (1992), a finalist for a National Book Award. Since then she has been compared with William FAULKNER, Flannery O’CONNOR, and Harper LEE and has written Skin: Talking About Sex, Class, and Literature (1994), an acclaimed essay collection; Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (1995), a brief memoir; and the ambitious novel Cavedweller (1998). An avowed champion of working-class southerners, Allison hopes to depict them with as much talent and insight as those middle-class characters made famous by Flannery O’Connor, a writer she admires. Born in 1949 and reared in and around Greenville, South Carolina, to a 15-year-old unwed mother, Allison was raised in poverty. Despite being physically and sexually abused by her stepfather, Allison not only survived but persevered. Encouraged by her mother, Allison earned her bachelor of arts degree from Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College), and in 1971 received a master of arts degree from the New School for Social Research (now New School University). Not surprisingly, her fiction is heavily autobiographical, and, says Allison, using the details in her writing and storytelling has helped her face the truth about her own life. Perhaps as important, her characters and their unsentimental stories have illuminated many sad facts of life previously unfamiliar to many of her mainstream readers. The novel Bastard Out of Carolina, set in 1950s rural South Carolina, presents its young protagonist, Bone, who was born to an unmarried mother who subsequently marries a man who sexually abuses her daughter. Like her creator, Bone learns that her very survival is somehow linked to lying and storytelling, at which


she proves extremely adept, entertaining her friends for hours on end. The more serious power of storytelling becomes apparent when Bone finally tells her mother the truth about Daddy Glenn. Similarly, Delia Bird, the protagonist of Cavedweller, learns that survival means facing the truth and accepting responsibility for past difficulties and mistakes. As a young woman in the 1980s, Delia is married to Clint Windsor, a Cayro, Georgia, alcoholic who beats her. She escapes her marriage by running off with Randall, a rock music star with whom she lives and performs in glitzy nightclubs in Los Angeles. She pays a huge price, however, for she leaves behind her two baby daughters, Amanda and Dede. Although Delia and Randall have another daughter, Cissy, she cannot escape her guilt and, when Randall dies in a motorcycle accident, Delia and Cissy return to Cayro; she hopes to win back the custody of her first two daughters. Delia nurses Clint, now dying of cancer, and in exchange, he allows her to reunite with Amanda and Dede. Although the actual cave exploration scenes focus on Cissy, who is preoccupied with these Southern Georgia landmarks, Delia, too, can be understood through the metaphor of the cave dweller: She must finally come to terms with her past, reenvision herself, and emerge into the light. Then she can begin a new life with her three daughters. Both Bastard Out of Carolina and Cavedweller were awarded the Lambda Award for Lesbian Fiction.

NOVELS Bastard Out of Carolina. New York: Dutton, 1992. Cavedweller. New York: Dutton, 1998.

SOURCES Moore, Lisa. “Dorothy Allison.” In Contemporary Lesbian Writers of the United States: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Sandra Pollack and Denise Knight. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.

OTHER Penguin Readers Guides. “An Interview with Dorothy Allison.” Available online. URL: http://www.penguinputnam. com/static/rguides/us/cavedweller.html. Accessed Aug. 21, 2005. Sherwin, Elizabeth. “Patron Saint of Battered Women Writes, Forgives.” Printed Matter. Available online. URL: http:// virtual-markets.net/~gizmo/1998/dorothy.html. Accessed July 14, 2005.

ALL THE KING’S MEN ROBERT PENN WAR(1946) America’s first poet laureate, Robert Penn WARREN, was best known during his life as a Pulitzer prize–winning poet. However, his 1946 novel, All the King’s Men, has become his most recognized work since his death in 1987. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1947, establishing Warren as a master of fiction as well as poetry. In 1949 Columbia Pictures released a film version of All the King’s Men, which garnered Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor for Broderick Crawford’s portrayal of Willie Stark, and Best Supporting Actress for Mercedes McCambridge’s portrayal of Sadie Burke. As Noel Polk observed in the afterword to his restored edition of All the King’s Men in 2001, “By common consent it is Robert Penn Warren’s best novel and also his most popular and enduring work” (631). While many readers consider All the King’s Men a political novel, it is far more than just that. Warren acknowledged in conversations and interviews that Huey Long in Louisiana was an inspiration for the novel, but he also said that Julius Caesar had inspired it as well. The issues it examines are much more complex than those of a single, corrupt politician. Told from the point of view of Jack Burden, a young southern journalist with his own issues about morality and justice, All the King’s Men follows the rise of Willie Stark to the position of governor in a southern state resembling Louisiana. Willie is completely open concerning his questionable means of accomplishing whatever he wants. As John Burt describes him, he is “a man willing to break the law to serve justice,” a man who “asserts himself in immoral ways in order to prove to himself that he has a self” (142). Willie’s rise is meteoric but not without difficulties. Willie is a womanizer, cheating on his wife throughout most of the novel, but even in these relationships he manages to hold to his own sense of equality, sleeping with the lower-class Sadie Burke as well as the upper-class Anne Stanton. Willie is thus an enigma, whom William Bedford Clark describes as wearing “the mask of an uncouth and unabashed populist demagogue, wielding like a weapon an inflammatory rhetoric in which holy writ and earthy humor combine,” while at the same time he is “a reforming idealist trying to assert himself against the shifting, but REN


always constrictive and reductive, roles the modern American politician seems fated to play” (90). As mentioned before, though, All the King’s Men is not just a political novel. It is also a novel of a young man’s struggle with the past and the present, with morality and justice. Because Jack Burden is the narrator of the novel, the themes concern him as much as they do Willie Stark. James Justus suggests, “All the King’s Men concerns the moral education of its narrator and it is Warren’s first extended fictional statement on the idea of complicity that lies at the core of that work” (Justus, 39). Indeed, Jack’s struggles with the morality of his ancestor, Cass Mastern; of his father, the socalled scholarly attorney; and of his substitute father, Judge Irwin, become touchstones for Jack in assessing his own morality in his relationships with Willie and with Anne Stanton. John Burt says that “Jack’s chief rhetorical effort is to show that all moral claims originate in pretense” (Burt, 155). Yet Jack’s rhetoric is often idealistic, and as with Willie, idealism cannot prevail in a world of moral ambiguity. When circumstances do not live up to Jack’s expectations, he struggles to adjust and situate himself within a changed world. How Jack reacts to the failure of his idealistic visions is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of All the King’s Men. When Jack learns of Willie’s affair with Anne Stanton, which he views as the biggest betrayal, Jack’s reaction is telling. Rather than fighting with Willie or with Anne, he flees, and he flees west, a typical American response to bad circumstances that comes down to him from the founding of the country. Hugh Ruppersburg suggests, “Travel west is movement toward unreality. It is in this sense the pursuit of a dream, an unattainable ideal. It is thus a metaphor for American history, as it was for . . . Jack Burden in All the King’s Men. . . .” (Ruppersburg, 112). For Jack, the West is a place of refuge; it nurtures him and soothes him when his world turns chaotic. Jack says the West is “where you go when you hear that thar’s gold in them thar hills. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age” (377). In his discovery of Anne Stanton’s affair with Willie, it is where Jack goes to recover from the shock of his destroyed fantasy of the virginal Anne. In fact, Jack says he “drowned West,” his “body having drifted down to lie there in the comfort-

ing, subliminal ooze on the sea-floor of History” (431) and he finds “innocence and a new start in the West” (434) that allows him to return to the South and face Anne in her new persona and the morally ambiguous world that did not meet his expectations. Whether All the King’s Men is Jack’s story or Willie’s, it is a complex novel, one that Marshall Walker calls, “a novel of ideas . . . without being philosophically over-insistent” (Walker, 99). The main characters represent particular types or ideas that all come together within the single narrator, Jack Burden. With this novel, it seems that Robert Penn Warren was able to successfully accomplish what Jack Burden describes in the final lines of the novel; he was able to “go out of the house and go into the convulsion of the world, out of history and into history and the awful responsibility of Time” (609).

SOURCES Burt, John. Robert Penn Warren and American Idealism. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988. Clark, William Bedford. The American Vision of Robert Penn Warren. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1991. Justus, James H. The Achievement of Robert Penn Warren. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981. Ruppersburg, Hugh. Robert Penn Warren and the American Imagination. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1990. Walker, Marshall. Robert Penn Warren: A Vision Earned. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1979. Warren, Robert Penn. All the King’s Men. Restored ed. Edited by Noel Polk. New York: Harcourt, 2001. Watkins, Floyd, John T. Hiers, and Mary Louise Weaks, eds. Talking with Robert Penn Warren. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1990. Keri Overall

ALL THE PRETTY HORSES CORMAC MCCARTHY (1992) The publication of All the Pretty Horses in 1992 vaulted Cormac McCARTHY into the spotlight of the American literary mainstream. Though his five previous novels had garnered consistently positive reviews and a number of awards, McCarthy had endured poor sales and toiled in relative obscurity. However, Random House’s ardent promotion and the book’s romantic western qualities helped make All the


Pretty Horses a national best-seller. Director Mike Nichols optioned the movie rights (Billy Bob Thornton would eventually direct the disappointing film version) and the novel won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Such success had a snowball effect on McCarthy’s career. Vintage rereleased his previous works in new paperback editions, and The Crossing (1994) and Cities of the Plain (1998), the subsequent installments of the Border Trilogy, also became best-sellers. Meanwhile, McCarthy’s career received increasing scholarly scrutiny. Because it subverts the genre’s investment in heroic individualism, critics have labeled the novel a postmodern western. While helpful, this designation obscures the work’s conventional plotting and characterization. All the Pretty Horses tells the story of 16year-old John Grady Cole’s journey from southwest Texas into Mexico and back. Along the way he performs deeds of high valor as he struggles to live out his romantic cowboy code. The story opens in 1949 in San Angelo, Texas, with the funeral of John Grady’s maternal grandfather, the tutelary spirit on whose ranch John Grady has been raised. The grandfather’s passing and John Grady’s desire to keep the unprofitable ranch against his mother’s wishes marks the hero as a belated figure. Like the culture of the Comanches who once roamed this land, the cowboy way of life will soon be lost to history as the postwar boom in the Texas oil industry displaces ranching as southwest Texas’s economic engine. Unable to sustain his dream of the Old West, John Grady sets off on horseback for a larky ride into Mexico with his more pragmatic friend, Lacey Rawlins, who plays Sancho Panza to the novel’s quixotic hero. McCarthy’s writing, varied and intoxicating, seduces the reader to buy into John Grady’s western fantasy. His prose shifts effortlessly from direct accounts of the journey to terse, comic dialogue, then careens into exhilarating descriptions of the landscape that locate the boys in an almost mythological relation to the universe. In contrast to the “picture book” horses John Grady admires but has been told do not exist, in the early sections of All the Pretty Horses the storybook cowboy life indeed appears attainable. The boys imagine themselves as desperadoes on the run, legends in the mak-

ing, and the book’s seamless integration of western male bravado with Faulknerian rhetorical flourishes tempts us to see them so as well. McCarthy’s language, however, undercuts this response by quietly intimating that this is all playacting, and when the boys are joined by a 13-year-old runaway on a magnificent horse they presume he’s stolen, they begin to lose control over the fantasy narrative they so confidently act out. Critics have suggested that Jimmy Blevins, as their new comrade calls himself, is one of a number of characters who represents the Evil that John Grady’s Adamic American innocence fails to heed. Despite Rawlins’s warnings, John Grady remains foolishly tolerant of Blevins, who loses not only his horse but also his clothes in a thunderstorm. Soon after, in one of the book’s most comically adventurous moments, in the town of Encantada while dressed only in undershorts, Blevins boldly steals the horse back. John Grady and Rawlins separate from Blevins and journey to the Hacienda de Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción, where they are hired on as ranch hands. Here John Grady becomes embroiled in a torrid affair with Alejandra, the beautiful daughter of the hacendado, Don Hector. Seeing Alejandra riding, John Grady thinks, “real horse, real land and sky and yet a dream withal,” and for a brief moment the ideal of romantic love coincides with his idyllic vision of ranch life. The novel’s revisionary inclinations emerge most clearly in the second half. Here the journey is reversed and the dream of retreat from the modern world shattered. First, the familial codes of Mexican aristocracy make Alejandra’s affair unacceptable to her father. Having gotten wind of the events that transpired in Encantada, as well as the fact that Blevins later killed three men in yet another effort to regain his horse, Don Hector relinquishes the boys to the Mexican authorities. Having been handed over to the Encantada police, the boys are forced to stand helplessly by as the town’s ruthless police captain executes Blevins. From there they are sent a prison in Saltillo, where their stubborn refusal to bribe their way out nearly costs them their lives. John Grady and Rawlins manage to survive only because Dueña Alfonsa, Alejandra’s great aunt, has bought their release in exchange for Alejandra’s promise to end the relationship to John Grady.


While Rawlins returns to Texas, John Grady pursues Alejandra. However, Dueña Alfonsa explains the arrangement she has made with Alejandra and justifies her interference by telling of her own similarly ill-fated romance. The rigorously realistic outlook she has gained from such experience compels her to protect Alejandra from dreamers like John Grady, the kind of men “to whom things happen.” Thwarted in his pursuit of Alejandra, on his return home through Encantada John Grady decides to reclaim his horse, and in a spectacular single-handed raid, he retrieves Blevins’s horse as well, takes the police captain hostage, and suffers a bullet wound to the leg, which he later cauterizes with the scalded barrel of his gun. While John Grady’s experience strips him of his western American naïveté, his exploits, as well as the novel’s concluding scenes, remain perplexing. His “grace under pressure” verges on the superheroic and seems almost parodic at times. Nevertheless, Dianne Luce, like others, construes John Grady’s final actions as a more mature form of heroism, arguing that he forgoes a quest for dominance (of nature, women, and others) in favor of a quest for truth. Indeed, upon returning to San Angelo after having failed in his noble mission to return Blevins’s horse to its rightful owner, John Grady appears at novel’s end shorn of his romantic illusions yet relatively uncorrupted. Still, because the novel concludes with an ambiguous image of the hero vanishing into the landscape, a mere shadow in the blood-red sunset in the west, it remains unclear whether his journey has led to a new understanding of the world or has simply rendered his alienation complete.

SOURCES Alarcon, Daniel Cooper. “All the Pretty Mexicos: Cormac McCarthy’s Mexican Representations.” In Cormac McCarthy: New Directions, edited by James D. Lilley, 141–152. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002. Jarrett, Robert L. Cormac McCarthy. New York: Twayne, 1997. Lilley, James D. “ ‘The Hands of Yet Other Puppets’: Figuring Freedom and Reading Repetition in All the Pretty Horses.” In Myth, Legend, Dust: Critical Responses to Cormac McCarthy, edited by Rick Wallach, 272–287. New York: Manchester University Press, 2000.

Luce, Dianne C. “ ‘When You Wake’: John Grady Cole’s Heroism in All the Pretty Horses.” In Sacred Violence: A Reader’s Companion to Cormac McCarthy, edited by Wade Hall and Rick Wallach, 57–70. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1995. McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses. New York: Random House, 1992. Morrison, Gail Moore. “All the Pretty Horses: John Grady Cole’s Expulsion from Paradise.” In Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy, rev. ed, edited by Edwin T. Arnold and Dianne C. Luce, 175–194. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993. Owens, Barcley. Cormac McCarthy’s Western Novels. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2000. Wallach, Rick. “Theater, Ritual, and Dream in the Border Trilogy,” Southwestern American Literature 1 (Fall 2001): 159–177. Kevin Quirk

ALVAREZ, JULIA (1950– ) Julia Alvarez, novelist and poet, has managed in little over a decade to attract a “crossover” (or mainstream) audience while chronicling the experience of the Latina in the United States. She has already achieved critical approval and attracted a large number of non-Hispanic readers. In this she is similar to Isabel Allende, Sandra CISNEROS, Cristina GARCIA, Ana Castillo, Esmeralda Santiago, and the American Book Award Winner, Sandra BENÍTEZ. Alvarez remains best known for HOW THE GARCÍA GIRLS LOST THEIR ACCENTS (1991), winner of the 1991 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Book Award, and for IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES, a historical novel and 1995 nominee for the National Book Critics Circle Award. These were followed by ¡YO! (1996), a sequel to García Girls, and In the Name of Salomé, another historical novel. All her novels take place in the United States and in the Dominican Republic, Alvarez’s birthplace. Born in 1950, Alvarez, her parents, and three sisters, moved to the United States when she was 10 years old. Her father, a medical doctor, was fortunate to get out of the Dominican Republic alive; indeed, the family’s dramatic leave-taking is at the core of both García Girls and ¡YO!. Because Alvarez and her sisters did not speak English and were “foreigners” in their Queens, New York, neighborhood, it is obvious why her loosely autobiographical novels depict the way immigrant


families exist with one foot in their countries of origin and another in the eternally and repeatedly new American home. Each novel features the character Yolanda, or Yo, a clearly recognizable alter ego for the author. Alvarez herself bridged this gap so completely that today she actually speaks Spanish with an American accent (Sirias, 2). Although both García Girls and In the Time of the Butterflies have been translated from English into Spanish, Alvarez says she would not dream of trying to write fiction in her native language (Sirias, 2). Influenced by the central place of storytelling in the Dominican culture, Alvarez knew from an early age that she wanted to become a writer. After attending Connecticut College for two years, she transferred to Middlebury College, earning a B.A. in English, summa cum laude, in 1971, and an M.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University in 1975. She counts numerous American writers among her favorites, including Sandra Cisneros, Louise ERDRICH, Toni MORRISON, Leslie Marmon SILKO, and Alice WALKER, as well as the Chilean Pablo Neruda and the Russian Leo Tolstoy. It is, however, the popularity of Maxine Hong KINGSTON’s memoir, The WOMAN WARRIOR, which made clear to her that the memories and insights of a writer from a minority community could resonate with a mainstream audience (Sirias, 6). In the Time of the Butterflies and In the Name of Salomé are historical novels. In the former, “butterflies” refers to “las mariposas,” the name ascribed to the Mirabal sisters, three of whom were murdered during the regime of Rafael Trujillo, the longest one-man dictatorship in the history of the Dominican Republic. In the Name of Salomé, according to scholar and critic Silvio Sirias, is Alvarez’s most ambitious work to date (Sirias, 119), as it focuses on Salomé Ureña, the Dominican National Poet and mother of the famous historical poet Pedro Henríquez Ureña and Max Henríquez Ureña, literary critic, historian, and diplomat during the Trujillo regime. Although nearly lost to history, Salomé Camila Henríquez Ureña was the daughter of Salomé Ureña and the sister of Pedro and Max. In this experimental novel, Alvarez devotes eight chapters, moving forward, to Salomé’s story and four to Camila’s, moving backward in time, covering the period 1850 to 1973. Although Alvarez considers herself an American writer who happens to be Latina, she shares with other

Latina and Latino writers such cultural interests as the centrality and influence of religion (usually Catholicism), family, machismo, and superstition. She remains the only Dominican writer of note in the United States, and she continues to experiment with unconventional plotting and structure. Alvarez is married and lives and works in Vermont.

NOVELS How the García Girls Lost Their Accents. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1991. In the Name of Salomé. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2000. In the Time of the Butterflies. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1994. ¡Yo!. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1996.

SOURCES Miller, Susan. “Family Spats,” Newsweek, 17 October 1994, 77. Sirias, Silvio. Julia Alvarez. Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

OTHER Alvarez, Julia. “Something to Declare.” Interview with Dwight Garner. Salon.com. Available online. URL: http:// archive.Salon.com/mwt/feature/1998/09/25feature.html. Accessed August 15, 2005. Emory University Web site. “Julia Alvarez.” Available online. URL: http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Alvarez.html. Julia Alvarez Web site. Available online. URL: http://www. alvarezjulia.com. Accessed August 10, 2005.

AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY, THE MICHAEL CHABON (2000) Michael CHABON’S Pulitzer Prize–winning novel focuses on Josef (Joe) Kavalier and Sammy Clay (né Klayman), two artistically gifted cousins who create the masked comic-book hero, The Escapist, modeled on Superman, in New York City just before, during, and after World War II. Both subject matter and language celebrate the triumph of creativity and human relationships in the face of the evils and Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. Chabon, frequently compared to such writers as John CHEEVER and Vladimir NABOKOV, has been praised for his lyrical use of language, his historical accuracy, and his ebul-


lient characters. Like those of Horatio ALGER, they overcome anguish and tragedy to become successful immigrant achievers of the American dream. The originality of the novel lies not only in the vibrant, sympathetic protagonists but also in Chabon’s use of the Golden Age of Comics in mid-20th-century American history and myth. The Escapist becomes metaphoric not only of individual freedom but the liberation of victims of tyranny everywhere. The novel opens in Brooklyn, New York, as Ethel Klayman, Sammy’s mother, awakens him to announce the arrival of his cousin Josef from Prague, Czechoslovakia. With the help of magician and escape artist Bernard Kornblum, a mentor inspired by Harry Houdini, Joe has escaped Czechoslovakia by hiding in a box with the Jewish golem bound for Lithuania. The golem, mystical symbol of Jewish faith, a sort of superman fashioned of earth and clay (which Sammy’s surname is surely intended to recall), becomes symbolically affiliated with the American comic-book heroes (Batman, Spiderman, and, of course, Superman) so admired by Joe and Sammy. Chabon told journalist David Colton that he sees Superman as an immigrant who achieved success in America, and Colton agrees: “Substitute warshattered Europe for exploded Krypton, and Superman is just another refugee. Except, of course, he can fly” (Colton). As numerous critics and readers point out, the theme of escape is significant to this novel. Even the golem who helped with Joe’s European escape seems awakened from dormancy each time a character needs to transform his life. Sammy, who has “the usual Brooklyn dreams of transformation and escape” (Kavalier and Clay, 12), decides to leave behind his stockroom job at Empire Novelty Company, collaborate with Joe, and create their own masked hero. With Sammy as writer and Joe as artist, Sammy’s boss agrees to give them their chance (without a pay increase). In a New York vivified by period detail, they invent The Escapist, and, in their first issue, the hero “delivers a powerhouse punch to Hitler’s bloody jaw” (Merritt) and continues to be the vehicle through which Joe and Sammy fight the Nazis and try to persuade the United States to enter the war. Joe, who never rests from his efforts to bring his brother, Tommy, to the United States, finds a small

measure of comfort in their Nazi-fighting Escapist. In an interview with Dave Welch, Chabon explicitly states, “There was something about the golem which tied in with Superman and the superhero figure, the messianic figure who would redeem the suffering and helpless of the world”; moreover, “the creators of all these golden age comic books, many of them were Jewish kids” (Welch). For a time, the pair enjoys their newfound fame and fortune, mingling with such luminaries as Spanish artist Salvador Dalí and British film director Orson Welles. Joe falls in love with Rosa Luxembourg Sax, a talented artist, while Sammy takes on a gay lover, Tracy Bacon. Rosa, in fact, inspires Joe to invent the comic-book superwoman Luna Moth, “with the legs of Dolores Del Rio, black witchy hair and breasts each the size of her head” (Kavalier and Klay, 132). These days are abruptly halted, however, by the Nazi sinking of the Ark of Miriam, the ship carrying Tommy Kavalier. With the death of his last remaining family member, Joe gives up Rosa (pregnant with their child, although Joe does not know), Sammy, and their comic empire to join the navy. He is stationed in Antarctica, where he kills the last remaining Nazi, is wounded in the fight, is awarded the Navy’s highest medal, and returns to New York a genuine hero. For some dozen years he resists returning to Bloomburg (the fictitious Levittown) on Long Island and his friend Sammy (who married the pregnant Rosa) or to Rosa and his son, Tommy, named after Joe’s brother. Atop the Empire State Building, in a complex blending of the novel’s major themes and settings— magic, heroism, escapism, liberation, love, friendship—Joe reveals himself to his son, Tommy, and realizes that he still loves Rosa, while Sammy, now free to admit openly his preference for men, heads for Los Angeles. In a final act of generosity, Joe, who learns that an overlooked savings account has earned more than $1 million, rescues Sammy from poverty by buying him the Empire comic-book company. Chabon, who seems to embrace rather than resist labels, told interviewer Stuart Eskinazi in 2003 that he considers himself “an American writer, a Jewish writer, and a Jewish-American writer,” as well as a postmodernist; when he was mistakenly identified as a gay writer as well, he quietly corrected the mistake, but


pronounced himself happy with the loyal following of gay readers. Among the novel’s concerns are numerous grim facts of 20th-century history, including bigotry against Jews, gays, and women. Rising above it all, however, are the brave modern heroes who insist on their freedom of expression and individuality. Against the accusations of “escapism” aimed at comic books, Chabon successfully illuminates the positive meanings of escape and liberation in both art and real life.

SOURCE Chabon, Michael. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay. New York: Random House, 2000.

OTHER Buzbee, Lewis. “Michael Chabon: Comics Came First.” The New York Times on the Web (September 24, 2000). Available online. URL: http://www.nytimes.com/books/ 00/09/24/reviews/000924.24buz.html. Accessed October 25, 2005. Colton, David. “Comics history ‘Unmasked’.” USA Today (6/23/03). Available online. URL: http://www.usatoday. com/life/television/reviews/2003-06-22-comic-roots_x. htm. Accessed October 23, 2005. Eskinazi, Stuart. “Nextbook: Insights into the Jewish Soul through Literature.” Seattle Times (11/11/1003). Available online. URL: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ html/artsentertainment/2001787791_nextbook110.html. Accessed October 22, 2005. Merritt, Byron. Review of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Available online. URL: http://www.fwomp.com/ rev-kavalier.htm. Accessed October 19, 2005. Kalfus, Ken. “The Golem Knows.” The New York Times on the Web (September 24, 2000). Available online. URL: http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/09/24/reviews/ 000924kalfust.html. Accessed October 20, 2005. Siciliano, Jana. Review of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay. Available online. URL: http://www.bookreporter. com/reviews/0312282990. Accessed October 13, 2005. Welch, Dave. “Michael Chabon’s Amazing Adventures.” Available online. URL: http://www.powells.com/authors/ chabon.html. Accessed October 16, 2005.

AMBASSADORS, THE HENRY JAMES (1903) With The Wings of the Dove and The GOLDEN BOWL, The Ambassadors is considered one of Henry JAMES’s major phase novels, marked like the other two books by James’s late, elaborate and elliptical syntactic style. The Ambassadors was written in 1901 but not published

until 1903 because of its being serialized in The North American Review. Thus it was composed before The Wings of the Dove although it was published afterward. James later slightly revised the novel for the New York edition in 1909. Although F. R. Leavis discounted the novel in his The Great Tradition and in recent years its presence in the critical literature has lessened as novels such as The Sacred Fount, WHAT MAISIE KNEW, and The Princess Casamassima have moved to the forefront of James studies, it has been central to James criticism for the past 100 years. James himself remarked that The Ambassadors was “frankly, quite the best, ‘all round’, of all my productions.” Often described as a novel of manners superimposed on a quest myth, The Ambassadors is a refinement of the “international” theme that James utilized in earlier works such as DAISY MILLER, PORTRAIT OF A LADY, and The AMERICAN. The novel recounts the story of Lambert Strether, an idealistic middle-aged American magazine editor, who is sent by his wealthy fiancée, the widowed Mrs. Newsome, to Paris to retrieve her 28-year-old son, Chad. Chad Newsome has been in Europe for several years but is expected to return and take over the family business in Woollett, Massachusetts. Along the way, Strether meets the American Waymarsh and the expatriate Maria Gostrey who act as guides to Paris. Strether finds Chad positively changed by the Old World environment and delays his mission as he contemplates his own wasted life and associates with Chad and Marie de Vionnet, whose relation is characterized to Strether as a “virtuous attachment.” When Strether fails to return with Chad, Mrs. Newsome sends another delegation of “ambassadors,” consisting of her daughter, her son-in-law Jim Pocock and his sister Mamie, whom Chad is expected to marry. Strether discovers the truth of Chad and Marie de Vionnet’s relationship when he sees them together in the French countryside. Chad decides to return to Massachusetts to capitalize on new ideas in advertising and Strether returns to America but not to Woollett. The idea of advertising runs as a metaphor through the novel and reinforces the nature of “the real thing” in the novel. At the beginning of the novel, Strether purchases a collected edition of Victor Hugo, “seventy bound volumes, a miracle of cheapness, parted with,


he was assured by the shopman, at the price of the redand-gold alone.” Likewise, a Lambinet picture is offered to Strether at a price the dealer assured him was the lowest ever offered for a Lambinet. Chad and Strether’s difference of opinion as to the effect of advertising at the end of the novel runs along similar lines. Chad states that advertising “really does the thing,” but Strether corrects him that it only affects the sale, that it, in other words, emphasizes the commodity nature of the art, not the art object itself. The distinction between the real thing and the illusion of advertising illustrates the change, or lack of change, in Strether and Chad. The novel can also be considered a bildungsroman, although James alters the form by having his protagonist be middle-aged instead of youthful; the contrast is further developed in the pairing of Strether with the younger Chad. The growth experienced by Strether is summarized by his speech to little Bilham, the artist, to “Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, as long you have your life.” The theme of perception is also played along these lines as it is Strether’s perception of his life, of Chad and Marie’s relationship, and of the difference between Paris and Woollett that influences his final decision. That this perception is not as clear-cut as it may seem is exemplified by the William James-influenced description of Paris: “It twinkled and trembled and melted together, and what seemed all surface one moment seemed all depth the next.” Most critics have praised The Ambassadors for its structural integrity. The symmetry of paired elements—Woollett, dominated by material concerns and a business ethos, and Paris, associated with high culture and the life of art; the paired sets of ambassadors; and the characters Strether and Chad, and Maria Gostrey and Marie de Vionnet—reinforces the international theme of the novel. In addition James utilizes a series of balcony scenes in which characters see or are seen and a series of garden scenes to tighten the novel’s structure. Likewise, James uses a series of recurring metaphors in the novel, including trains, boats, and jewels, to create an almost poetic aesthetic to the novel. A great deal of critical attention, especially after Wayne Booth’s analysis of the novel in The Rhetoric of

Fiction, has been given to the narrative as it is focalized through Strether. The novel is told neither from a firstperson point view (what James called “the darkest abyss of romance”) nor from an omniscient narrator; instead, the reader is limited to Strether’s point of view. In this novel James challenges the limitations of the single point of view and effectively conveys the nuances of human consciousness, because all the reader encounters is Strether’s thought processes and observations. James uses what he calls in the New York edition preface the ficelle character—in this case, characters like Maria Gostrey, Waymarsh, and little Bilham—to provide necessary information to the reader. One of the highlights of James’s success in this respect is his ability to create a far-reaching presence for Mrs. Newsome strictly through the thoughts of Strether although she is never directly seen in the novel.

SOURCES Armstrong, Paul B. “Reality and/or Interpretation in The Ambassadors.” In The Challenge of Bewilderment: Understanding and Representation in James, Conrad, and Ford, 63–106. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1987. Bellringer, Alan W. The Ambassadors. London: Allen & Unwin, 1984. Booth, Wayne. The Rhetoric of Fiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961. Griffin, Susan. “The Selfish Eye: Strether’s Principle of Psychology.” In The Historical Eye: The Texture of the Visual in Late James, 33–56. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1991. Hocks, Richard A. The Ambassadors: A Readers Guide. Boston: Twayne, 1993. James, Henry. The Ambassadors. New York: Penguin, 1977. Krook, Dorothea. Henry James’s “The Ambassadors”: A Critical Study. New York: AMS Press, 1996. Matthiessen, F. O. Henry James: The Major Phase. New York: Oxford University Press, 1963. Rivkin, Julie. “The Logic of Delegation in The Ambassadors,” PMLA 101 (1986): 819–831. Watt, Ian. “The First Paragraph of The Ambassadors: An Explication,” Essays in Criticism 10 (1960): 250–274. Eric Leuschner

AMERICA IS IN THE HEART CARLOS BULOSAN (1946) Carlos BULOSAN’s America is in the Heart, first published in 1943 and then in 1946,


details the memories and experiences of a young immigrant from the Philippines. Bulosan’s travel narrative recounts the difficulties of his childhood in provincial Philippines, the causes of his immigration to the United States, and finally the hardships and violence Filipino migrant workers encountered there. The novel is candid in its descriptions and discussion of poverty, violence, and death. However, the narrator contrasts these images with an abiding sense of hope and a belief in the American Dream. The result is a “semi-autobiographical” novel that is strong in its imagery, its commentary on racism, class differences, and the tensions between various immigrant groups that still resonate today. Part 1 of the novel is first set in the barrio of Mangusmana, in the town of Binalonan, in the province of Pangasinan (Northern Luzon). The first-person narrator, Carlos, nicknamed Allos, sees his brother Leon coming home from fighting World War I in Europe. The family, happy for Leon’s safe return, helps him prepare for his wedding. All goes well until the wedding night, when everyone in the barrio finds out that Leon’s new wife is not a virgin. Violence ensues, setting a tone for the poverty, misery, and tragedy Allos witnesses throughout his life. He and his family eke out a meager existence as subsistence farmers, selling what little they can at market. Allos comments on the exploitation of these farmers by wealthier landlords, or hacienderos, and large corporations. He knows of revolts that take place against the richer entities, and the bloody suppression of these revolts. Allos’s father’s struggles to keep his land and eventually loses it to one of the faceless entities in Manila. Allos is acutely aware of his father’s humiliation at first losing his land and then having to hire himself out as a laborer. The struggle for land rights, both in the Philippines and in the United States, is a large theme in Bulosan’s novel. Attempting to find more work, Allos travels between Mangusmana and Baguio City, a larger, more cosmopolitan city. Here, he gains exposure to affluent Europeans and Americans. Allos meets an American librarian named Mary Strandon, who introduces the young man to library books and to Abraham Lincoln, a poor boy who eventually becomes president of the

United States. Lincoln becomes the role model for whom Allos has been looking. He also refers to writer Richard WRIGHT, noting that as a Negro, Wright was barred from borrowing books from the library. As a brown man, Allos also knows his access to a library could be restricted at any time, so he reads the books voraciously. Because of his family’s toil, Allos finally makes the decision to go to the United States to pursue what he hopes will be a better life. He journeys to Manila, waiting, like many Filipinos, for passage to Honolulu. In Manila, he is exposed to the violence and victimization resulting from abject poverty, from bloody cock fights to prostitution. His last image of the big city is of a woman prostituting her daughter for money. He sails from Manila with a heavy heart, already missing his family and his good recollections of home. As Allos departs for the United States, he seeks out other Filipinos to feel unity and comfort against the harsh racism that awaits them in the new country. Bulosan’s narrative style is episodic, showing how Allos meets many different women and men, some who disappear from his life, never to be seen again, and others who enter and reenter his life periodically. He travels all over the West Coast picking fruit and vegetables, and working as a dishwasher and fish canner. The work is hard, yet Allos observes that the money he earns is more than what he earned in the Philippines. As he travels, he runs into many of his compatriots, and learns very quickly of the insidious division and infighting that make all the Filipinos’ lives precarious in the United States. He observes other immigrant groups, for example, some of the Chinese, taking advantage of newly arrived immigrants. Other immigrants are hospitable, giving food and shelter whenever they can. Allos learns the dark side of survival: At times he is ruthless, at other times he is empathetic, trying to keep his humanity as both victim and witness to disease, accidents, and criminal activity. Because of the exploitation, several of the migrant workers, including Allos, try to organize unions. The socialist actions are at times successful and at other times suppressed by those who own the fields, orchards, and companies. Allos uses his talent for writing as a way of fighting for worker dignity. He participates in the social struggle that began with the


injustices he experienced as a farm boy in the Philippines. In part 2, Bulosan shows how literature functions for social change. Allos writes articles for various magazines, emphasizing the existance of fragile unions like the Filipino Workers’ Association. He also experiences conflict among the different nationalities as Mexican and Filipino workers compete. He tells of the infiltration and betrayal of spies who attempt to weaken the young unions. One in particular, Helen, is exposed by Allos and his fellow union organizers, but only after she foils various strikes. Soon after, Allos discovers he has tuberculosis. Undaunted by illness, Allos (Carlos) continues to write and to cultivate his relationships with other writers and editors who contribute their knowledge and experiences to help not only the migrant workers, but to improve the lot of all the poor. He discovers that other writers across the world are impassioned by the same social forces that drive him to write. His literary influences include Russian writers, Nikolay Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and other Europeans such as Sean O’Casey and Federico Garcia Lorca. He also mentions their American counterparts: Jack LONDON, Mark TWAIN, and William SAROYAN, who write about the struggles of the poor and outcast against natural and societal oppressors. Allos fights for unionization and Filipino rights through emergent fascism in Europe and later, through the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and World War II. Critics often discuss the importance of land and social reform in America is in the Heart. Other topics include gender politics in the novel. Articles on the novel discuss both emasculation and “hyper-sexual” stereotypes of Filipino men and the “threat” felt by white men of “taking” away white women. Other critics analyze rape, other types of victimization, and idealization of women characters in the novel. The novel’s study of Allos’s experiences of poverty, racism within and outside of cultural groups, and violence is detailed and often bleak, but it shows hope thriving in a young man who continues to educate himself and writes for what he believes.

SOURCES Cheung, Kingkok, ed. An Interethnic Companion to Asian American Literature, 312–337. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Chu, Patricia P. Assimilating Asians: Gendered Strategies of Authorship in Asian America. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000. Lowe, Lisa. Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996. Morantte, P. C. Remembering Carlos Bulosan. Quezon City, the Philippines: New Day, 1984. Patricia J. Nebrida

AMERICAN, THE HENRY JAMES (1877) Henry JAMES wrote The American in 1875 while he was living in Paris, and much of the material in the novel draws on his experiences there. Initially rejected by The Galaxy, The American was serialized in W. D. HOWELLS’s Atlantic Monthly before it was published as a book in 1877. James significantly revised the novel for the complete New York edition of his works in 1907. James’s revisions for the New York edition are probably the most extensive of all his novels; he altered the style of the novel to match the later complex, syntactic style characteristic of The AMBASSADORS and The Wings of the Dove, and he removed much of the comic aspect of the original version. The nuances of various passages, including the ending, were changed. Critics have debated the merits of the various versions, and many prefer the original. Christopher Newman, the American of the title, is a wealthy self-made man who is traveling through Europe to become cultured and to find a wife, “the best article on the market” (35). He meets the widowed Claire de Cintre in Paris, but when he goes to visit her at her home, he is rebuffed by her aristocratic family, the Bellegardes, including her mother, the marquise, and brother Urbaine de Bellegarde. Only her younger brother Count Valentin becomes friends with Newman and encourages him to continue his suit. Claire has survived a harrowing first marriage to a morally degenerate but socially suitable aristocrat, and she is not eager to remarry, but Newman’s gentleness and eager love win her over, and the two become engaged. Later, however, Claire is pressured by the rest of her family, who simply cannot accept Newman’s lack of culture and plebeian origin; she breaks the engagement and announces her intention of becoming a nun. Meanwhile, Newman has introduced Noemie Nioche, the social-climbing daughter of his French teacher, to


Valentin who is mortally wounded in a duel over her. On his deathbed, Valentin tells Newman of his disgust for his family and informs him that the maid, Mrs. Bread, knows of a family secret. Mrs. Bread supplies Newman with a letter that proves the marquise was responsible for her husband’s death. Newman threatens to expose the family but, in the end, forsakes revenge and destroys the evidence. The American is the first of James’s novels to deal with the “International Theme,” the confrontation of New World and Old World sensibilities that James took up again in DAISY MILLER, The PORTRAIT OF A LADY, and The AMBASSADORS. Newman is the prototypical American Yankee, independent and assured, straightforward and naive, yet boisterous and gauche; he is “a powerful specimen of an American. . . . [and] physically a fine man” (6). His origins are somewhat mysterious; he has made his new wealth in the West. The arrogant Bellegardes, on the other hand, living in a crumbling, castle-like estate, represent the old order of Europe and are described in terms of age and moral degeneracy. The ending of The American has vexed readers and critics from the original publication. Contemporary readers expected a happy ending, and Howells pleaded with James to provide a new ending in which Newman and Claire are married. When James dramatized the novel in 1890, he did give it a happy ending, but he retained the primary situation of the ending in the New York edition. Each ending, however, can be read differently. In the original ending, Newman appears to think twice about destroying the letter: “Newman instinctively turned to see if the little paper was in fact consumed; but there was nothing left of it” (325). In the 1907 revision, Newman’s instinctive reaction is removed and the focus is placed on Claire’s loss. Mrs. Tristam, one of Newman’s confidantes, listens sympathetically to his story: “ ‘Ah, poor Claire!’ she sighed as she went back to her place. It drew from him, while his flushed face followed her, a strange inarticulate sound, and this made her but say again: ‘Yes, a thousand times—poor, poor Claire!’ ” One of the main criticisms of the novel has been what some scholars describe as its dual nature. The first half of the novel, which recounts Newman’s stay in Paris and

develops the contrast between the American and the Bellegardes, has generally been valued for its realistic nature and social comedy. The second half, on the other hand, is criticized for its romantic, melodramatic tone, which is marked by staples of popular romances and thrillers such as duels, gloomy estates, family secrets, and murder. James himself draws attention to this problem in the preface to the New York edition. He defines the real as “the things we cannot possibly not know, sooner or later, in one way or another,” and the romantic as the things “we never can directly know” (xvi). The image of the novel is described in terms of a balloon and he asserts that the author of a romance cuts the balloon’s tether: “The balloon of experience is in fact of course tied to the earth, and under that necessity we swing, thanks to a rope of remarkable length, in the more or less commodious car of the imagination; but it is by the rope we know where we are, and from the moment that cable is cut, we are at large and unrelated” (xvii–xviii). James notes that the problem of the novel stemmed from his determining beforehand that the Bellegardes would not have acted in the end in life as they did in the novel; it was more likely, James admitted, that a decaying aristocratic family in Europe would have been only too happy to take Newman’s money.

SOURCES Banta, Martha, ed. New Essays on The American. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Horne, Philip. Henry James and Revision. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990. James, Henry. The American. 1877. New York: Signet, 1980. ———. The American. 1907. New York: Scribner, 1935. Long, Robert Emmet. Henry James: The Early Novels. Boston: Twayne, 1983. Eric Leuschner

AMERICAN APPETITES JOYCE CAROL OATES (1989) Before the film American Beauty, before Columbine, even before the Menendez brothers or JonBenet Ramsey became symbols of American suburban culture, Joyce Carol OATES had, in her fluid style, already shown the “dark side” of suburbia in American Appetites. Indeed, Greg Johnson, in his book Understanding Joyce Carol Oates, simplifies Oates’s message and overall writing style, not only in American


Appetites, but in her writing as a whole: “the phenomenon of contemporary America: its colliding social and economic forces, its philosophical contradictions, its wayward, often violent energies” (Johnson, 8). Oates took the McCullough family, Ian, Glynnis, and daughter, Bianca, and showed readers the potentially deep flaws just beneath the surface of suburbia. Outwardly perfect, all appearances are crisp and clean, yet boiling underneath this very thin surface is a tendency towards violence, infidelity, greed, and dishonesty. The American dream, a quest for the perfect family, profession, and home and a life free of monetary concern, has been a popular topic for literature since F. Scott FITZGERALD graced the literary world with The GREAT GATSBY. In American Appetites, Joyce Carol Oates shows the American dream as a conclusion rather than a quest. Although limited in number, critical analyses of American Appetites point to Oates’s commentary on suburbia as well as the “brittle fragility of the structures and institutions that shape the typical American life-style” (Creighton, 95). In addition to this viewpoint, American Appetites can also be read as Oates’s challenge of the meaning of truth, redefining it as shifting perception rather than an absolute certainty. Ian and Glynnis McCullough, a successful, wealthy, and beautiful couple, truly have everything. The only apparent flaw in their picturesque world is the death of an infant son, Jonathan, many years prior to the opening of the novel. Ian is a successful senior fellow at the Institute for Independent Research in the Social Sciences. Glynnis is a published author and chef, currently working on a new cookbook entitled “American Appetites.” Their daughter Bianca, enrolled in a prestigious college, appears throughout the novel but does not live at home. Oates quickly establishes the success and storybook life of the McCullough family. Just as readers are wondering what this perfect family will do for the next 300 pages, Ian receives a call from a young woman named Sigrid Hunt—a friend of Glynnis— sobbing and in desperate need of help. “She began sobbing, panting harshly into the receiver, a warm moist desperate breath Ian could virtually feel” (10). Her cryptic message draws Ian to her home in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she greets him in hysterics. She

needs money. Ian is clearly sexually drawn to her, although he alternates repeatedly between denying and confirming his attraction. He writes her a check for $1,000 and leaves with the satisfaction that his money has helped someone less fortunate than himself. “Ian McCullough drove back to Hazelton-on-Hudson in a trance that was both erotic and rueful: guessing that what he’d done might be a mistake but quite satisfied with himself that, against the grain of his natural caution, he had done it. He thought of himself, that February afternoon—to be specific, the afternoon of February 20, 1987—with satisfaction and, even, a measure of pride” (30). When Glynnis finds the check receipt, however, the McCullough family begins to unravel. Glynnis attacks Ian with accusations, and their fight escalates from verbal to physical. In an attempt to protect himself from a knife-wielding Glynnis, Ian accidentally pushes her through a plate-glass window. Her death following an 18-day hospital stay prompts an extensive police investigation, and Ian is charged with the murder of his wife. Although he is eventually acquitted of the charges, he spends the duration of the novel attempting not only to maintain the appearance of his perfect family, now missing a substantial third, but to determine if, in fact, he did kill his wife. As a commentary on suburbia, American Appetites works as a near caricature. “The suburban life the McCulloughs have been living is another game. What appear to be solid, respectable lives and faithful, happy marriages are only the civil trappings of a much different reality full of rage, infidelity, and desperation” (Creighton, 97). Oates’s overemphasis of Glynnis as a professional woman, very successful in her career, a solid wife and mother who lives for her family yet is also able to put together the perfect dinner party for 20 of their “close” friends, belies the imperfection boiling underneath. Ian, too, fits the stereotype of the perfect man to a degree, even while standing trial for his wife’s murder. Ian is seen as quite introspective, largely due to the point of view Oates selected. Through the trial, Ian constantly questions his own guilt, as any “good” person would. “My success is my problem, he said, and his friends laughed with him and agree, for many of them were burdened with the same problem: they were, like


Ian McCullough, successes ‘in their fields,’ well into middle age yet ‘still youthful,’ comfortably well off beyond all dreams and expectations of graduate-student days yet still ‘ambitious’—though ambitious for what, none could have said” (7). However, with the realization that affairs happen, money is lost, and people die, American Appetites “is also about the other side of the looking glass, the ‘photographic negative,’ the dark other in the self and in others, which Ian encounters as a result of this experience” (Creighton, 95). An unanalyzed yet equally significant message of American Appetites is the redefinition of truth Oates presents. Truth, as a concept, is considered reality in a relatively constant state. Oates amends the concept and suggests that reality itself shifts continuously. Both Ian and Glynnis explore the concept of truth versus perception at many points throughout the novel. Glynnis thinks, while recollecting an affair from her past, “She had known, then, that absolute trust in another human being is an error. We believe, not what is true, but what we wish to perceive as true” (57). Ian mirrors this through a piece of artwork that hangs in his office as a constant reminder: “Not what the eye sees but what the mind imagines the eye must see” (8). Through these two parallel viewpoints, Oates challenges readers to consider what is truth, fact, and what is perception, what our minds imagine our eyes see. Throughout the trial Ian revisits this concept as he questions his role in Glynnis’s death. American Appetites is still a relatively un-critiqued piece of literature. Through presenting the picture of a stereotyped “American Dream” family and redefining one of life’s basic accepted facts, the definition of truth, Joyce Carol Oates has once again demonstrated her ability to not only tell a story, but to give a telling analysis of society and humanity as well.

SOURCES Creighton, Joanne V. Joyce Carol Oates: Novels of the Middle Years. New York: Twayne, 1992. Johnson, Greg. Understanding Joyce Carol Oates. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987. Oates, Joyce Carol. American Appetites. New York: Harper & Row, 1989. Kelly Flanagan

AMERICAN BRAT, AN BAPSI SIDHWA (1993) Bapsi SIDHWA, a Parsee (Zoroastrian) writer of Pakistani descent, was born in Karachi, then part of pre-partition India, and all her early fiction is set in Pakistan or India. She immigrated to the United States in the 1980s, and An American Brat is her only novel set in the United States. The novel is narrated from the point of view of a young Parsee Pakistani girl who belongs to the Junglewalla clan featured in Sidhwa’s earlier novel The Crow Eaters (1978). Feroza Ginwalla, the teenage protagonist, is sent by her mother, Zareen, to visit her uncle Manek in the United States. Zareen wishes to dissuade Feroza from following the edicts of the increasingly fundamentalist Islamic society in Pakistan under General Zia in the late 1970s, and she hopes a vacation in America will cure her daughter’s conservatism. In the first half of the novel, Manek, a doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is Feroza’s tour guide through New York and Boston, and he initiates the privileged upper-class Pakistani girl into American life. He teaches her basic skills such as how to use deodorant, tear open plastic wrappers, and eventually to come out of her sheltered existence to become independent and responsible for herself. Feroza attends college, first in Idaho and then in Colorado. She learns about becoming American through her roommates and classmates—Jo, whose father owns a diner and whose siblings live on welfare; Gwen, an African-American woman, who climbs out of extreme poverty through a wealthy WASP boyfriend, and inexplicably vanishes (perhaps murdered) by the novel’s end; Shashi, Feroza’s Indian boyfriend who is an expert at benefiting from the allegedly exploitative capitalist “system”; and finally, David Press, her shy, Jewish boyfriend to whom she becomes engaged. By the novel’s end, Feroza has adapted so thoroughly to American life that when her mother visits the United States to break off her imminent marriage with David, Feroza refuses to do so, and instead faces the wrath of her family and ostracism by the Parsee community. The once sexually repressed Feroza also learns to take control of her body and to express desires that are forbidden by her own traditional society. An American Brat is a novel of manners. Sidhwa’s strength lies in her social realism and acute observation of details of the characters’ first impressions of America


and the differences between Pakistani, Parsee, and American attitudes, values, and ways of life. The depiction of the Parsee cultural mores, the multiple well-rounded comic characters of Feroza and Manek’s extended family, the religious rituals before Feroza’s departure for the United States, the elaborate preparations for Manek’s wedding, the tragicomic drama of the Junglewallas’ “family conference” (268) and “formidable think tank” (272) in response to Feroza’s wish to marry a non-Parsee or “parjat,” are all hilarious. The comic novel does at times seem a bit superficial, and, as one reviewer suggests, it reads like a travelogue of an international student’s first impressions and stereotypical perceptions of America and Americans, including a focus on sex, drugs, violence, materialism, urban poverty and homelessness, and impermanent relationships. Nevertheless, Sidhwa’s style, “boisterous, slightly ribald, and ingenuously irreverent” (69) continues to engage the reader. The novel is also a bildungsroman, a genre that, according to critic Feroza Jussawalla, is characteristic of the postcolonial novel. According to Jussawalla, “The bildungsroman journey seems to be the basis of every so-called postcolonial . . . novel. It is the initiation process that leads not just to a general self-awakening process, but to an awakening into one’s culture, one’s nationalism and to an understanding of one’s self as located in a particular place and in a particular cultural-political framework” (80). But the journey of the awakening in An American Brat is specifically feminine. Sidhwa’s works are informed by feminism, and on the treatment of women in patriarchal societies. An American Brat ends with Feroza’s full Americanization: after David breaks up with her, she realizes “she could only do the healing right here in America. . . . She knew that there was no going back for her” (311), as she values her privacy, individualism, space, and First World luxuries too much to relinquish them.

SOURCES Allen, Diane S. “Reading the Body Politic in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Novels: The Crow Eaters, Ice-Candy Man, and An American Brat,” South Asian Review 18, no. 15 (December 1994): 69–80. Jussawalla, Feroza. “Interview with Bapsi Sidhwa.” In Interviews with Writers of the Post-Colonial World, 197–221. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1993.

Kapadia, Novy, “Expatriate Experience and Theme of Marriage in An American Brat.” In The Novels of Bapsi Sidhwa, edited by R. K. Dhawan and Novy Kapadia, 187–199. New Delhi: Prestige, 1996. Powers, Janet M. “Bapsi Sidhwa.” In Asian American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson, 350–356. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000. Sidhwa, Bapsi. An American Brat. Minneapolis, Minn.: Milkweed Editions, 1993. Lavina D. Shankar

AMERICAN DREAM, AN NORMAN MAILER (1965) When Norman Mailer released his serialized novel An American Dream in 1965, critics either praised him for his work or dismissed the novel as a failure. In this controversial novel, Mailer tells the story of Stephen Richards Rojack, a former congressman and current television celebrity and professor of existential psychology. The text chronicles 32 hours of Rojack’s life, concentrating on those hours after he murders his wife—Deborah Caughlin Mangaravidi Kelly—by strangling her and disposing of her body by tossing her out the window of a 10th floor apartment. Once Rojack disposes of Deborah’s body, he then has a series of quests to complete before being absolved of the crime. Mailer takes us through several sexual encounters, beatings, incest, and suicidal thoughts before Stephen is exonerated by Deborah’s father, Barney Oswald Kelly. And if this seems somewhat far-fetched, it is (many critics dismissed the novel for its lack of realistic portrayal). But here lies the beauty in Mailer’s work; this text is a radical departure from his previous novels where Mailer concentrates on the realistic. In An American Dream, Mailer develops a text that relies on the romantic, the mystical. On the surface, the text pushes the boundary of realistic fiction; however, a closer reading reveals the novel’s true focus on mystical elements such as magic, death, and the supernatural—all elements central to appreciating and understanding Mailer’s attempt at the romantic. As readers, we first see Rojack’s preoccupation with mysticism in his fascination with the moon. Early in chapter 1, “The Harbors of the Moon,” Mailer depicts Rojack’s reliance on this mystical element:


So I stood on the balcony by myself and stared at the moon which was full and very low. I had a moment then. For the moon spoke back to me. By which I do not mean that I heard voices, or Luna and I indulged in the whimsy of a dialogue, no, truly it was worse than that. Something in the deep of that full moon, some tender and not so innocent radiance traveled fast as the thought of lightning across our night sky, out from the depths of the dead in those caverns of the moon, out and a leap through space and into me (11). Here, we see Rojack’s obvious belief in the romantic— this sense of another world beyond that of reality. Clearly, Rojack is immersed in this subculture where imagination rules. For Rojack, the moon guides his actions. Rojack does not decide his course; he waits for guidance from the moon. For critic Robert Begiebing, Mailer guides us through Rojack’s life by portraying it as a symbolic dream. Begiebing believes that the text operates within this dreamlike state to further Mailer’s purpose of depicting Rojack in a world that defies reality. Just as Rojack walks Kelly’s parapet balancing life and death, so too does Mailer balance his protagonist’s life between reality and fantasy. According to Robert Ehrlich, this break from realism and the delicate balancing act serve to promote Mailer’s vision: While much of the melodrama and coincidence are effects of Mailer’s attempt to write a novel beyond the confines of realism, supernatural forces not only contribute to the symbolic heightening of experience, but exist, independent of the form of the novel, as part of Mailer’s developing cosmological vision (Ehrlich, 69). Therefore, these abnormal occurrences that appear throughout the text supply Mailer’s need to view the world beyond the scope of reality. The plot promotes Mailer’s ideas about both magic and supernatural forces. According to Tony Tanner, Rojack enters the world of the mystical after he kills Deborah: “Having left the political world, Rojack finds himself in a demonised

[sic] world of invisible powers and strange portents, of rampant superstition and accurate magics” (Tanner, 43). Since Deborah’s murder occurs early in the text, Tanner suggests that Rojack survives in this world of magic for most of the novel. Accordingly, Mailer’s break with the reality in the fiction of his previous works requires it. When reading An American Dream, it is crucial to realize that this novel is a departure from the style found in Mailer’s previous works. Their focus was the truth at the hearts of his characters. In An American Dream, however, Mailer opts for the romantic; his focus becomes the mystical, the romantic. As readers, we cannot presuppose his loyalty to the realistic—we must open our minds and allow our thoughts to follow Mailer’s guide. In doing so, we are better able to appreciate and understand Mailer’s purpose—to promote his own sense of the universe.

SOURCES Begiebing, Robert J. Acts of Regeneration: Allegory and Archetype in the Works of Norman Mailer. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1980. Ehrlich, Robert. Norman Mailer: The Radical as Hipster. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1978. Fetterley, Judith. “An American Dream: ‘Hula, Hula,’ Said the Witches.” In Critical Essays on Norman Mailer, edited by J. Michael Lennon, 136–144. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1986. Mailer, Norman. An American Dream. New York: Dial Press, 1965. Merrill, Robert. Norman Mailer. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978. Tanner, Tony. “On the Parapet.” In Modern Critical Views: Norman Mailer, edited by Harold Bloom, 33–49. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. Christopher Lee Massey

AMERICAN PASTORAL PHILIP ROTH (1997) Although it was written first, Philip ROTH’s Pulitzer Prize–winning American Pastoral is chronologically the second novel in his AMERICAN TRILOGY about postwar America, beginning with I Married a Communist (1998) and ending with The Human Stain (2000). Covering the period from the end of World War II to the Watergate hearings, the novel focuses on the 1960s, characterizing its turbulence in terms of paradise lost. Like many pre-


vious Roth novels, American Pastoral is concerned with the assimilation of American Jews and the transition from urban Jewish enclaves to dispersed and mainstreamed households in suburbia, as well as with daughters’ and sons’ acceptance or rejection of their fathers. The novel’s narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, was the hero of Roth’s earlier Zuckerman trilogy of novels, collected in 1985 as Zuckerman Bound. Zuckerman has long served as Roth’s alter ego, and in American Pastoral we find him grappling with his own mortality. The main character of the novel is Seymour Irving Levov, known as “the Swede,” an unusually Nordiclooking and athletically gifted boy from Zuckerman’s neighborhood, who grows up to be a successful businessman and the husband of a former Miss New Jersey. In short, he is the perfectly assimilated subject. Zuckerman, having withdrawn from the world after a bout with prostate cancer that has left him impotent and incontinent, is horrified to learn that the demigod of his childhood—whom he never stopped idolizing— has actually proven more vulnerable to prostate cancer than he. He also learns that two decades before his death, the Swede’s life was blown apart when his 16year-old daughter, Merry, in protest against the Vietnam War, bombed the local general store and killed a neighborhood resident. In this rendition of paradise lost, Merry is Eve, and the novel reflects as much disgust for women’s bodies and disobedience as the original versions of the Fall. Overweight and a stutterer, Merry is a problem child long before her political leanings develop. When the Swede finally finds her five years after the bombing living in a downtown Newark that has been gutted by rioting, she is an emaciated adherent of the Indian religion known as Jainism, and she carries her religious principles to such a morbid extreme that she does not bathe for fear of harming the microorganisms that reside on her skin. She is so revolting that the Swede vomits when he sees her, and her extreme nonviolence, following the revelation that she has been involved in several bombings that killed four people, reeks of hypocrisy. The Swede is hardly valorized for his assimilation, however. As others, including his brother Jerry, repeatedly try to tell him, Merry’s extremism is born of his extreme commitment to being perfect and to pleasing

everybody around him, especially his father. When he finds Merry in her Jain incarnation, he accedes to her request to leave her in the squalor of her situation in part because he never has been able to bring himself to force her to do anything she does not want to do, and in part because he is hosting a dinner party and he cannot imagine reconciling his daughter in her current state with his parents and his WASP neighbors. His love for his daughter is flawed by his love for the American dream, which he naively believed he had achieved. Considering the failures of Merry and the Swede, the novel ends on the lamenting question, “And what is wrong with their life? What on earth is less reprehensible than the life of the Levovs?” (423). The ambiguity of the novel’s message is compounded by Nathan Zuckerman’s narration of it. In the long first section of the novel, which focuses on the nostalgia he feels for the Swede and for the era of his childhood, after attending his 45th high school reunion, Zuckerman makes it clear that his knowledge of the Swede’s life is limited to Jerry’s brief summary. Although the final two sections of the novel are narrated sometimes omnisciently and sometimes from the Swede’s first-person perspective, we already know that this is Zuckerman’s mind at work—and from previous novels narrated by Zuckerman, we know his mind fairly well. This raises the possibility that American Pastoral is less about the Swede and the 1960s than it is about Zuckerman and his failing health. Seeking insight into the failures of his own body and shocked to learn that the Swede, too, is mortal, Zuckerman sees the loss of the forties and fifties to the Dionysian excesses of the sixties as paradise lost simply in terms of his own progress toward death.

SOURCES Gentry, Marshall Bruce. “Newark Maid Feminism in Philip Roth’s American Pastoral,” Shofar 19, no. 1 (2000): 74–83. Milowitz, Steven. Philip Roth Considered: The Concentrationary Universe of the American Writer. New York: Garland, 2000. Parrish, Timothy. “The End of Identity: Philip Roth’s American Pastoral,” Shofar 19, no. 1 (2000): 84–99. Roth, Philip. American Pastoral. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Monika Hogan


AMERICAN PSYCHO BRET EASTON ELLIS (1991) Ellis’s first-person account of Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street type who kills between binges of good grooming, was a scandal even before its publication because its first contracted publisher refused to print it. Its horrific, some would say pornographic, depiction of sexual violence continues to raise the question of its value, or more precisely, what the exact nature of its value might be. The book is a tour de force, a virtuoso permutation of the premise that serial killing (particularly dismemberment) and commodity fetishism are alike in being forms of repetition compulsion characterized by the addictive accumulation of part-objects that are unconsciously intended to substitute for an undeveloped unitary self but can only provide a momentary satisfaction that must be sought again and again (Seltzer, 65). Self-administered facials and other essentially masturbatory acts of body pampering are implicitly equated with the carving and gouging of victims’ bodies, not merely because they too are indulgences, but also because both constitute the fetishization of part over whole. Fetishized brands displace the body: “I’m able to compose myself by simply staring at my feet, actually at the A. Testoni loafers. . . .” (151). Bateman monotonously recounts each ritualized stage of his grooming regime, all the while reciting the specs and capacities of the products he applies: “Then I use the Probright tooth polisher and next the Interplak tooth polisher . . . which has a speed of 4200 rpm and reverses direction forty-six times per second” (26). There is a grisly comic aspect to the idea of a cannibal concerned with whitening his teeth. But the constant referencing of accessories and mechanical apparatus does more than illustrate the fascination with phallic mechanisms so often ascribed to serial killers; nor does it merely foreshadow the later application of drills to the bodies of others in the attempt to lay claim to their mysteries. The function of branding is to bestow an implied affiliation. It is as if the narrator, by naming product brands—which are already fetishized by advertising that designates them as the supplement of a deficient or inadequate self— might somehow provide himself with an identity. Indeed the operative analogy may be between serial killing and advertising itself, insofar as consumption

practices could not be as they are were it not for the fact that conventional advertising imagery has already acclimated a materialistic populace to the power and provocation of part-objects: the fetishized body parts of women that are in turn linked to the product, the part-object writ large. “I place a camel-hair coat from Ralph Lauren over her head. . . . I keep shooting nails into her hands until they’re covered” (245). For all the sadism, there is something of the carnivalesque as well: The abject grandeur that the mutilated body has in pulp fiction is degraded by the branded accessories, rather than glorified. The bland yet insistent way that Bateman habitually catalogues his designer apparel, even as he is torturing some woman, can be seen as the consequence of the mutual dependency and ultimate conflation of obsession and triviality that has been strategically designed by consumerist capitalism. This alteration and eventual conflation of emotional vacuity and sensation, of nonchalance and sensationalism, is perhaps best encapsulated by the way Ellis segues from Bateman’s horrific description of his consumption of body parts to a banal conversation about the relative merits of different bottled waters (250ff). Bateman’s uncannily flattened tone conveys a detachment and general absence of affect that is more disquieting than any amount of heavy breathing and slavering. He occasionally displays contemptuous indifference: “I don’t want to ruin this particular Alexander Julian suit by having the bitch spray her blood all over it” (77); but his heart is not in it: I “touch my chest—expecting a heart to be thumping quickly, impatiently, but there’s nothing there, not even a beat” (116). In the latter third of the book, Bateman’s increasingly frequent anxiety attacks do produce a heightening of disgust: “I start stuffing handfuls of the ham into my mouth, scooping . . . getting it stuck beneath my nails . . . throwing up . . . leaning against a poster for Les Miserables . . . I kiss the drawing . . . leaving brown streaks of bile smeared across [the] soft, unassuming face” (150). But he is upset by pieces of rabbit smeared with salsa, which “looks like one big gunshot wound” (123), in a way he is never disgusted by the human “meat” he cooks and eats. After poking at the rabbit in “disbelief,” he wipes his finger off on the thigh of his girlfriend (who seems not to notice).


Inattention is a motif and insistent theme of the novel. A friend remains “unfazed” as Bateman “belch[es] into his face . . . greenish bile dripping in strings from . . . bared fangs” (151). Bateman coos at a baby in the arms of its mother, “ ‘Yes I’m a total psychopathic murderer, oh yes I am, I like to kill people, oh yes I do honey . . . yes I do’ ”; but the baby only grabs at his credit card. The cleaners never question his bloody sheets, nor the maid his smeared walls. Unlike Les Miserables, this is no story of the implacable attentions of the law. His confession to friends that on seeing a “hardbody” he wonders “[w]hat her head would look like on a stick’ ” (92) is laughed off, as conversation turns to dinner. However grotesque, this is comedy of manners, and indeed one of the book’s three epigraphs explicitly refers to a “mannerly” way of doing things and the need for restraint. To suggest that serial killing is a manifestation of the lack of good manners is not as comically outrageous as it might seem, since the absence of civility, that is, barbarity, is linked to inattentiveness (the subject of the third epigraph), which is in turn associated with lack of affect, the inability to feel appropriately—“the point when your reaction to the times is one of total and sheer acceptance, when your body has become somehow tuned into the insanity” (5–6). But the question is, is this insanity intended to shock the reader into recognizing something, or even to shock the reader out of something? Is the book a satire? Insofar as Bateman is never censured by his colleagues, the novel might be read as a satiric diagnosis of general socioeconomic tendencies that he personifies to an exaggerated degree. This would seem to be supported by the book’s first epigraph, which is from Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground, a first-person confession of an alienated sadomasochist who “represents a generation” in his thoroughgoing nihilism and desire to be acknowledged by those he despises. However, there is little, if any, textual evidence to support the contention that the book expresses moral indignation, as some wishful thinkers have pretended in the hope of legitimating it. If it is a satire on the self produced by capitalism, it is a postmodern one in which the recognizable objects of satiric degradation are present but displayed with a self-conscious awareness that

is always gesturing toward precedent texts. Dostoyevsky’s underground man did not have the intertextual benefit of a Madonna song as a soundtrack (“life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone. . . .” [150, 371, 373]). This is by way of saying that Ellis’s narrator is not subterranean but all surface insofar as he is postmodern, just as the scenes at his aptly named club and café (Chernoble [sic], Nowheres) provide a postmodern take on urban anomie (disorientation due to the absence of traditional value-communities). The urban postmodern is conceived as performance even when it is not: “people pass, oblivious, no one pays attention, they don’t even pretend to not pay attention” (150). Bateman performs the serial killer role; he enhances his monstrous self-image by having himself witnessed on video by his victims, thereby becoming a performer of monstrosity like the guests on the talk show he habitually watches. Ellis makes no attempt to produce the impression of interiority or depth. Bateman does not narcissistically confuse himself with others, nor does he seek to fill the void with the victims he consumes, as (Ellis knows) serial killers are supposed to do. He is nothing but surface. After forthrightly telling a masseuse that he fantasizes transfusing the blood of a dog into a girl, she tells him, “ ‘Oh Mr. Bateman, your face is so clean and smooth. . . .’ ” (117). More (or, rather, less) than this, Bateman is sheer textuality, as much as his designer clothes are. “[T]here is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me. . . . Myself is fabricated, an aberration” (376–377). But if he could be said to come by an identity through acts of identification, it is identification with texts. Even his name identifies him as a monster of intertextual reference (during a restaurant conversation Bateman refers to Eddie Gein, the real-life prototype for Psycho’s Norman Bates). The textuality of identity is one of the many significations of the ongoing competition regarding who has the most impressively designed business card (Bateman’s are “bone-colored”). Immediately after trying to strangle a homosexual (who misreads the attack as rough sex), the narrator is asked to arbitrate a question of style. He responds in a manner that parodies style magazines, though it is not clear whether this is intentional: “While a tie holder is by no


means required businesswear, it adds to a clean, neat overall appearance. . . .” (160). This exemplifies how his consciousness is a construct produced by what the literary theorist and Dostoyevsky expert Mikhail Bakhtin terms polyphonic discourse—a clamoring of competing voices and texts: TV talk shows, pop songs, horror videos, tabloid newspapers, fashion, cuisine, technology, celebrity culture, exercise regimes, money markets, hair mousse—each claiming, but all failing, to hold the self in place. If it is nihilism for Bateman to claim “[e]ach model of human behavior must be assumed to have some validity” (377), it is a distinctly postmodern type: “Surface, surface, surface was all that anyone found meaning in . . .” (375).

SOURCES Annesley, James. Blank Fictions: Consumerism, Culture, and the Contemporary American Novel. London: Pluto Press, 1998. Ellis, Bret Easton. American Psycho. Basingstoke/Oxford, England: Picador, 1991. Seltzer, Mark. Serial Killers: Death and Life in America’s Wound Culture. New York/London: Routledge, 1998. Simpson, Philip. Psycho Paths: Tracking the Serial Killer through Contemporary American Film and Fiction. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2000. David Brottman

AMERICAN SON BRIAN ASCALON ROLEY (2001) A New York Times 2001 Notable Book of the Year and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2001, American Son presents a grim view of immigrant status and violence in Southern California in the 1990s. This coming-of-age novel tells the story of the Sullivan brothers, sons of a long-gone American father and a devoted Filipina mother. The story is narrated by the younger son, Gabe, who is caught between his desire to please his mother, Ika, and the pull of his rebellious older brother, Tomas. Ika finds herself out of her depth in American society and helpless to control her sons’ increasingly violent behavior. The novel is about the fluidity of racial affiliation in California, and the insidiousness of this category: Tomas, who trains attack dogs to sell to Hollywood celebrities, chooses to pose as a Mexican, wearing a gold cross and flaunting a huge Virgin of Guadalupe

tattoo. Ika’s brown skin and accented English determine the way she is treated by shopkeepers and other school mothers. Gabe, the “good” son who tries to help his mother, can pass for white. All the characters undergo a personal itinerary of adaptation that arises from their sense of themselves as outsiders in society, and their determination to carve their place in it. Tomas finds release in increasing brutality, drug use, and abuse of his family. The mother places her hope in her younger son, and in his staying in school and doing well. Gabe runs away to escape his brother’s fury and to find a racially neutral place for himself. His encounter with a tow-truck driver who mistakes him for a white boy makes him aware of the dangerous consequences of specific affiliations. When they meet up with his mother, who comes to take him home, Gabe tells the driver that she is the maid. This cruel disowning of his mother reflects the boy’s desperate attempt to detach himself from the markers of difference. Gabe returns home to dire consequences. In reparation for having stolen his brother’s car and selling his favorite dog, he must now serve as Tomas’s accomplice in theft, drug dealing, and physical attacks. Though the boy’s body initially rejects these acts—he throws up every time he accompanies his brother on his forays—Gabe actively participates in the beating of Ben Feinstein in revenge for Ika’s humiliation by Ben’s mother. Roley manages to convey the boy’s growing bitterness and disillusionment through an increasingly unemotional prose. Gabe’s voice, tentative and insecure at first, acquires decision and a steely edge to it by the end of the novel. The boys’ relationship with their mother is curiously ambivalent. They love her and are fiercely protective of her, but they also abhor the image she projects of foreignness and a failure to assimilate. Her helplessness, deference toward white Americans, and inability to stand up for herself make them despise her. Gabe remains unaware of the contradiction inherent in his violent defense of her at the end: to “save” his mother, he condemns himself, an act that will almost certainly destroy her. Ika’s story is that of the immigrant’s defeat—she works at two jobs to make ends meet, cannot pay for


car insurance, and understands she has lost her sons to an American world that remains alien to her. Gabe’s narrative alternates with letters from his uncle Betino to Ika. As Betino suggests solutions to the boys’ problems, urging her to enroll them in strict Catholic schools, he stresses his sister’s inability to deal with her sons, who are becoming an embarrassment to the family name. In a manner of speaking, Ika is caught between two narratives—her brother’s letters, which outline a life of tradition and privilege that she has rejected in favor of her American dream, and her son’s bildungsroman, which chronicles his initiation into a world of violence and consequent separation from her. Too American to return to the Philippines and too obviously a foreigner in the United States, Ika no longer belongs anywhere. This liminal position is one occupied by all the characters in this powerful and painful account of immigrants and biracial children trying to survive in America.

SOURCES Roley, Brian Ascalon. American Son. New York: Norton, 2001. ———. “American Son: A Novel.” Available online. URL: http://www.brianascalonroley.com. Accessed May 21, 2005. Rocio G. Davis



DREISER (1925) Literary


naturalists, such as Theodore DREISER, often depicted characters in urban, working-class settings. A scathing indictment of the American success myth, An American Tragedy describes two unequal Americas in unceasing struggle. The poor suffer, while the rich insist “how difficult it is to come into money,” when they have, in fact, benefited by exploiting “inferior” individuals. Born poor in Terre Haute, Indiana, Dreiser’s youth provided him experience from which to draw his protagonist. In later life, he championed several left-leaning causes, scorning the hypocritical social system and its religious, moralistic explanations. An American Tragedy is almost a carbon copy of the actual murder case of Chester Gillette and Grace Brown, a farmer’s daughter. Both worked at a factory in Cortland, New York, owned by Chester’s uncle. Grace’s

pregnancy threatened their clandestine relationship. At Big Moose Lake, Herkimer County, Chester rented a boat and rowed Grace to a secluded location. Her body was found the next day in the lake; Chester was arrested nearby two days later. Chester sought to extricate himself from the relationship, insisting her death was an accident. Like Clyde Griffiths, Dreiser’s character, Chester was seeing other women besides Grace, whose identities were kept secret. In a sensational monthlong trial, based entirely on circumstantial evidence, Chester was convicted. In An American Tragedy’s 874 pages, the American Dream careens horribly out of control. Griffiths, a poor, weak-willed son of wandering midwestern evangelists, nurses loftier dreams, especially after a bellhop job at a fancy hotel earns him money for the first time. Following an ill-fated escapade with his coworkers, typical of Jazz Age antics, he flees to Chicago. There he meets his rich uncle, who employs him in his collar factory in upstate New York. Soon he falls in love with a pretty factory worker, Roberta Alden. She becomes pregnant and demands that he marry her. Meanwhile, Clyde has fallen for Sondra Finchley, a socialite who represents everything he craves. Clyde plans to drown Roberta on a boat trip, but his resolve diminishes. However, when she accidentally falls from the boat, he lets her drown. Convicted of murder, he dies by electrocution. Dreiser analyzes each step leading to Clyde’s demise: merely a clueless creature in a cruel world where uncontrollable forces determine outcomes, he flounders. Ironically, people consider Clyde either privileged or poor according to how they perceive their own social positions. His lack of self-control nearly always skews these encounters to his detriment, leaving him powerless over his fate. Horatio ALGER’s popular but unrealistic rags-toriches tales depicted cheerful penniless orphans, who, through “luck, pluck, and hard work,” prospered. As America industrialized and cities grew, society became increasingly stratified. Had he been Alger’s protagonist, Clyde would have gone from bellhop to hotel magnate. Once at his uncle’s factory, Clyde is powerfully drawn to Roberta Alden. At first his idealized “dream,” she is physically attracted to him and to his “superior”


position. Both have believed that poverty discourages obtaining an attractive lover. But pleasure will destroy their bond. As several scholars, Susan L. Mizruchi, for example, suggest, false values and illusion render them too much the realization of each other’s dream for their relationship to survive. To Sondra, Clyde is a charming trifle because she can use him to goad his cousin, Gilbert, whose feelings toward Clyde are hostile. But society offers Clyde no honorable way out of his association with Roberta. A doctor uses moral arguments to refuse Roberta an abortion, although he has waived these scruples to “protect the reputations of wealthy girls.” As for the poor, he believes they deserve to suffer for their careless actions. Sondra’s letters are affected; Roberta’s are sensitive, only later to be exploited as displays of pathos for the public, to indict another member of her class. Her reputation is not worth saving, for she succumbed to carnal desires. Sondra, later spared negative publicity in Clyde’s trial as “Miss X”—has the influence to “erase” any consequences of her actions; and Clyde, like an aborted fetus, can be expelled from her life. Dreiser liberally uses foreshadowing. As Clyde’s sister Esta runs off with an actor, Roberta will later surrender to Clyde’s sexual demands. Clyde’s bellhop job at the Hotel Green-Davidson hints at the insignificantbut-opulent glamour of Lycurgus society. Again, he is on the outside looking in. Hobnobbing with the rich guests was forbidden, just as socializing with the factory girls would be forbidden. Both affairs with Hortense in Kansas City and with Sondra in Lycurgus end sadly. For both, Clyde is willing to make the devil’s bargain. Although likely legally blameless, Clyde’s indiscretion of riding with his associates in the “borrowed car” dogs him to the end, whereas Clyde’s distorted perceptions cause him to simply ruminate about his guilt for deserting a drowning Roberta. Visitors to his parents’ makeshift ministry find salvation themselves but do not save others. Clyde’s own trancelike mental state “saves” him but not Roberta. Alas, fundamentalist extremism provides no real survival tools in an indifferent world. On the battlefield of Clyde’s soul, “religion” picks a fight with his libido. A corrupt legal system, determined less by facts than by perceptions, supports the prosecutor Mason. Resent-

ful because of his identification with the lower class, he views Clyde as one of the idle rich. His prosecution becomes personal, justifying exploiting a jury predisposed towards family, church, and morality. Ironically, he thinks nothing of using Roberta’s painful epistles to advance his vendetta. Clyde never gets a fair trial. Like Kansas City and Lycurgus, the prison houses a cross section of society—the prisoners represent a variety of ethnic types. A Catholic Italian gone mad, a Jew, a Chinese man, and a lawyer await execution. Fellow doomed prisoner Miller Nicholson, the (secular) lawyer, bequeaths Clyde two books, Robinson Crusoe and The Arabian Nights, but his absence leaves a void. Clyde is both the lonely dreamer (like Crusoe) and the romantic. Like America, Clyde has roots in Puritanical fundamentalism but craves temporal happiness despite its spurious promise. For a time, Pastor McMillan’s prison visits provide Clyde with comfort and a sense of the divine. Still, by forsaking Clyde, the pastor believes he is saving his own soul. Motifs figure prominently. Much about Sondra Finchley hints at electricity, which turns out to be Clyde’s final fate. “Indeed, his effect on her was electric—thrilling—arousing a sense of what it was to want and not to have—to wish not win and yet to feel. . . . It tortured and flustered him” (242–243). Clyde even perceives her baby talk to have “an almost electric if sweetly tormenting effect.” Even if no one died or suffered, and Sondra and Clyde married, tragedy would have followed as Clyde was only capable of desiring what was out of reach. In the end, Mrs. Griffiths gives young Russell (Esta’s son, who resembles Clyde) a dime for ice cream, determined that her grandson will not repeat his uncle’s fate. Would this small gesture extend him a chance at the American dream?

SOURCES Dreiser, Theodore. An American Tragedy. Cambridge, Mass.: Robert Bentley, 1978. Lydenberg, John, ed. and comp. Introduction to Dreiser. A Collection of Critical Essays, 2. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1971. Mizruchi, Susan L. The Power of Historical Knowledge: Narrating the Past in Hawthorne, James, and Dreiser. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988.


OTHER Davies, Jude. “Naturalism, 1893–1914.” The Literary Encyclopedia. Available online. URL: http://www.litencyc.com/ php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=764. Accessed May 21, 2005. The Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York. “The Murder Trial of Chester Gillette.” Available online. URL: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/history/gillette. htm. Accessed May 21, 2005. Jill Arnel

AMERICAN TRILOGY, THE (AMERICAN PASTORAL, 1997; I MARRIED A COMMUNIST, 1998; THE HUMAN STAIN, 2000) PHILIP ROTH During the last third of the 1990s, something curious occurred in Philip ROTH’s writing. After an autobiographical tetralogy—The Facts, Deception, Patrimony, and Operation Shylock,— where the author explored the textual relationship between fact and fiction, and SABBATH’S THEATER, an outrageously offensive masterpiece, à la PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT, Roth did something few of his readers would have expected. He shifted his narrative gaze from the labyrinthine mirror games of self-reflexivity to the larger American historical landscape. What is more, he did so by bringing back his perennial artist hero, Nathan Zuckerman, a character upon which much of his earlier fiction was based. Through a series of three novels, Philip Roth revisited many of the key historical moments that defined much of post–World War II America: the turbulent 1960s in AMERICAN PASTORAL, the McCarthyite 1950s in I Married a Communist, and the Monica Lewinski–based political witch hunt of the 1990s in The Human Stain. Taken separately, each book reads as a fascinating case study of the ways in which an individual must negotiate his (the subject is usually male in Roth’s fiction) life in the face of historical forces beyond his control, or, to use Philip Roth’s own words, the processes by which an individual becomes “history’s hostage” (Roth, Remnick interview). Together, the American Trilogy stands as one of Roth’s most ambitious achievements, earning him several literary awards (the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral, the Ambassador Book Award for I Married a Communist, and the PEN/Faulkner Award for The Human Stain) and marking

what is now being seen by many as the high point in his career. The emphasis on history, especially recent American history, is nothing new in Philip Roth’s fiction. In fact, one can read much of his earlier writings as an indirect engagement with this topic. For instance, there is the critique on suburbia in his novella “Goodbye, Columbus,” the wild send-up of America’s communist paranoia in The Great American Novel, and the exploration of the Jewish diaspora in The Counterlife. Yet in the past 10 years, Roth has attempted to write the individual subject into the fabric of history, and in doing so he illustrates that identity is not an isolated construct, but a composition saturated by the many social, political, and cultural forces that surround it. This is a striking departure from the kind of writing found in such novels as My Life as a Man, The Anatomy Lesson, and Deception, works that by 1990 were being criticized by many as solipsistic exercises in belly-button gazing. Each of the three novels chronicles the efforts of a man who tries to escape, or transform, the ethnic, economic, and political constraints into which he is born. American Pastoral explores the life of Seymour “Swede” Levov, Weequahic, New Jersey’s former star athlete and idolized “household Apollo” (4), a man who represented to his Jewish community the hopes and dreams of advancement and assimilation into the greater, and largely gentile, America. The Swede, nicknamed for his outstanding Nordic features, attempts to live a Norman Rockwellesque existence by marrying a former Miss New Jersey beauty queen, taking over his father’s successful glove-making business, and settling down in the rural countryside, in Old Rimrock, New Jersey, with his wife and young daughter. His efforts to achieve a “pastoral” life are thwarted when his malcontent teenage daughter, ironically named Merry, becomes involved with anti-Vietnam War radicals and blows up their small community’s local post office, killing the town’s beloved doctor, bringing the war’s violence home to peaceful Old Rimrock, and ultimately causing the breakdown of the Levov family. Most of the narrative in American Pastoral is devoted to the Swede’s attempts to make sense of his daughter’s actions and keep his family from disintegrating, tasks he finds himself ill-equipped to perform.


The second novel in the trilogy, I Married a Communist, centers on Ira Ringold, a working-class American Jew who becomes a successful radio star. Performing under the name Iron Rinn, he works as a voice on several successful radio dramas, all reflecting in one way or another the communist-leaning ideology that he picked up from a fellow soldier during World War II. His life is a series of contradictions, for as he espouses a working-class ethic to his radio audience, he becomes involved with and eventually marries the former silent movie starlet and now successful radio actress, Eve Frame, nee Chava Fromkin, a self-hating Jew who denies her lower-class ethnic roots and pretentiously assumes an aristocratic (and gentile) lifestyle. Ira’s world comes crashing down when he angers the McCarthyite element in the radio industry and is caught in an extramarital affair, causing his wife (with a little help from her red-baiting friends) to write a scathing expose, bearing the same title as Roth’s novel, denouncing Ira as a communist bent on undermining the American way of life. In The Human Stain, published in 2000, Roth approaches the late 1990s, with its politically correct zeitgeist and its much-maligned president, in ways that are similar to his writing in the previous two novels. He found that the current events of the time produced tendencies that were analogous to those found in the narratives of Swede Levov and Ira Ringold: an atmosphere of persecution, the propensity for betrayal, and a sense that societal forces could undermine the best intentions of the individual. Roth embodied this cultural spirit in the figure of Coleman Silk, a former dean and now classics professor at Athena College, a small New England college. Coleman comes under attack when he refers to two of his students—individuals whom he has never seen and who never attend his class—as “spooks.” Unbeknownst to him, the two students are African-American, and they, along with the many of his colleagues who hold personal grudges against the former dean, accuse Coleman of racial insensitivity. This politically correct witch hunt, as Coleman sees it, ruins his life, causing him to leave Athena College and ultimately contributing to his wife’s sudden aneurysm and eventual death. The irony behind all of this is that Coleman is actually an African

American passing as a dark-skinned Jew, and that he has assumed this persona in order to escape the very racism that denied him personhood as a young man. Most of The Human Stain is a chronicle, via a series of recollections and flashbacks—his experience as a formidable young boxer, his unsatisfying student days at Howard University, his stint in the navy, and his bohemian days in 1950s Greenwich Village—of the ways in which Coleman passes as a white and how the decision to deny his heritage causes his own downfall, a tale reminiscent of the tragic Greek dramas that as a professor, Coleman Silk teaches in the classroom. What make these three novels so intriguing are not only the overt stories of each man, but the ways in which those stories are told. In all three books the events are narrated by Nathan Zuckerman, the artisthero of earlier novels such as The GHOST WRITER, Zuckerman Bound, The Anatomy Lesson, and The Counterlife. However, the Zuckerman in the American Trilogy is not the young provocateur we see in the previous books. In the American Trilogy, Zuckerman is now a much older man, a survivor of prostate cancer, both impotent and incontinent, and a bit of a recluse. In the series, Zuckerman narrates to the reader the stories of the Swede, Ira, and Coleman, and does so by pulling together the facts of their lives. At the same time, he commingles those historical events with suppositions or reimaginings (mentally “making up” what could have happened) of his own, so that the stories of these three tragic figures—at least the stories that the reader receives—are a mixture of fact and (probable) fiction. This is especially the case in American Pastoral and The Human Stain, where there are clear indications that Zuckerman cannot possibly know everything about the lives of Swede Levov and Coleman Silk. In fact, “not knowing” is a central leitmotif that works its way throughout the American Trilogy. In one of the most significant (and oft-quoted) passages from The Human Stain, Zuckerman describes interpersonal knowledge as nothing more than a facade masquerading as certainty: “ ‘Everyone knows’ is the invocation of the cliché and the beginning of the banalization of experience. . . . What we know is that, in an unclichéd way, nobody knows anything. You can’t know anything. The things you know you don’t know. . . . All that we


don’t know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing” (209). But whereas the reader may be tempted to view the “not knowing” in a nihilistic light, Roth, on the other hand, uses it as a lifeaffirming condition of existence. As Zuckerman reminds us early in American Pastoral, “getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living. . . . That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride” (35). In addition to recalling, reimagining, or “making up” the various events of these tragic figures, Zuckerman presents his information (and Roth structures his narrative) through a disjointed chronology and in ways that emphasize the considerable links between memory and storytelling. Again, this is especially the case with American Pastoral and The Human Stain. I Married a Communist, usually considered the weakest of the three novels (but nonetheless a central work in Roth’s late fiction), is different from its companions in that the story of Ira Ringold is more or less told in chronological order with little discontinuity and even fewer episodic reimaginings. Murray Ringold, Ira’s older brother and Zuckerman’s former high school English teacher, recalls the events in his brother’s life in a fairly straightforward manner, at times passing off the narrative to Zuckerman, who then turns Ira’s story back over to Murray, the primary speaker throughout most of the novel. In fact, there are moments when Nathan Zuckerman seems completely absent from I Married a Communist, long involved passages where Murray’s recounting of Ira’s life is barely framed by the presence of his listener. However, much like the other two novels in the American Trilogy, the emphasis is on storytelling and the ways in which narratives—and identities—are constructed. As a result, Roth’s style in the American Trilogy is very Faulknerian, reminiscent of the kind of narrative style found in such works as “A Rose for Emily” and ABSALOM, ABSALOM!. It is curious to note that in almost all of the reviews of American Pastoral, The Human Stain, and I Married a Communist, critics tended to focus on the tragedy of the novels’ overt protagonists—the Swede, Ira, and Coleman—and rarely commented on the centrality of

each novel’s narrator, Nathan Zuckerman. Yet the fact that Zuckerman, an artist figure deeply concerned with the ways in which fiction integrates into and in many ways influences our lived experiences, returns to Philip Roth’s work after a 10-year hiatus (last seen in The Counterlife) and becomes our sole narrative conduit, is not an insignificant matter. His presence should remind the reader that narrative game-playing and the deconstruction of unified identity are major themes in Roth’s fiction. Each of the three novels in the American Trilogy is not only an account of the individual “held hostage” by the forces of history but also the story of Zuckerman himself as he relates these stories. Or, put another way, through the narrative choices he makes—how he structures the story, what to include or exclude, what to “dream up,” what to leave incomplete—Nathan Zuckerman reveals just as much about himself, if not more, than he does the subjects of his stories. Read in this manner, the American Trilogy is not only a sweeping epic of late 20th-century America, but also a continuation of a theme that runs throughout much of Philip Roth’s oeuvre: the ways in which the subject, especially the artist figure, attempts to define himself in a fragmented and uncentered postmodern world.

SOURCES Gentry, Marshall Bruce. “Newark Maid Feminism in Philip Roth’s American Pastoral,” Shofar 19, no. 1 (2000): 74–83. Johnson, Gary. “The Presence of Allegory: The Case of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral,” Narrative 12, no. 3 (2004): 233–248. Levy, Ellen. “Non-Genetic Genealogies in I Married a Communist.” In Profils Americains: Philip Roth, edited by Paule Levy and Ada Savin, 169–179. Montpellier, France: Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier III, CERCLA, 2002. Messmer, Marietta. “Beyond Ethnicity?: Reading Philip Roth’s The Human Stain.” In American Vistas and Beyond: A Festschrift for Roland Hagenbüchle, edited by Marietta Messmer and Josef Raab, 285–300. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2002. Omer-Sherman, Ranen. “ ‘A Stranger in the House’: Assimilation, Madness, and Passing in Roth’s Figure of the Pariah Jew in Sabbath’s Theater (1995), American Pastoral (1997), and The Human Stain (2000).” In Diaspora and Zionism in Jewish American Literature: Lazarus, Syrkin, Reznikoff, and Roth, 234–266. Hanover, N.H.: Brandeis University Press, 2002.


Parrish, Timothy L. “The End of Identity: Philip Roth’s American Pastoral,” Shofar 19, no. 1 (2000): 84–99. Roth, Philip. American Pastoral. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. ———. The Human Stain. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. ———. I Married a Communist. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. ———. “Philip Roth at 70.” Interview by David Remnick. Audio interviews: Listen to Writers. London, BBC4. March 19, 2003. Royal, Derek Parker. “Fictional Realms of Possibility: Reimagining the Ethnic Subject in Philip Roth’s American Pastoral,” Studies in American Jewish Literature 20 (2001): 1–16. ———, ed. Philip Roth’s America: The Later Novels. Spec. issue of Studies in American Jewish Literature 23 (2004): 1–181. Safer, Elaine B. “Tragedy and Farce in Roth’s The Human Stain,” Critique 43 (2002): 211–227. Savin, Ada. “Exposure and Concealment in The Human Stain.” In Profils Americains: Philip Roth, edited by Paule Levy and Ada Savin, 181–197. Montpellier, France: Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier III, CERCLA, 2002. Shechner, Mark. Up Society’s Ass, Copper: Rereading Philip Roth. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003. Shostak, Debra. Philip Roth—Countertexts, Counterlives. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2004. Derek Royal


RUDOLFO A. (1937– ) An award-winning author known for his groundbreaking first novel, BLESS ME, ULTIMA (1972), Rudolfo Anaya has succeeded in illuminating the Chicano heritage through his novels, stories, poetry, essays, and plays. He derives his ideas and inspiration from the culture and folklore of the American Southwest. By blending fantasy and realism, and by interweaving the magic of Mexican myth, tradition, and symbol, Anaya creates characters who ultimately discover their identities and understand themselves to be individuals within communities. Anaya’s novels are also about faith and the loss of faith, reflecting his own youthful spiritual crises, and they employ bilingualism to illuminate the dual heritage of his characters. Born October 30, 1937, in Pastura, New Mexico, Rudolfo Anaya was raised by his father, Martin Anaya, a rancher and vaquero (cattle herder), and his mother, Rafaelita Mares. Anaya’s mother, a farmer’s daughter,

was a great teller of stories and legends. She also employed a curandera (variously a healer, a wise woman, a shaman) and recalls that, even as an infant, Anaya foreshadowed his destiny by crawling toward a pencil and paper (Olmos). Educated at the University of New Mexico, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1963, and master’s degrees in English in 1968 and in guidance and counseling in 1972. The 1972 publication of Bless Me, Ultima not only established Anaya as one of the major founders of the Chicano literary movement, but also elicited an invitation to join the faculty of the University of New Mexico, where he remained until his retirement in 1993. Bless Me, Ultima, winner of the Premio Quinto Sol national Chicano literary award, has sold more than 400,000 copies and remains perhaps the most studied Chicano novel in American literary history. Antonio Juan Marez y Luna, the protagonist of this bildungsroman, learns valuable lessons from Ultima, the shaman, who guides him toward a harmonious relationship with his land and his culture. Marez y Luna refuses to become a vaquero to please his father or a farmer to satisfy his mother, and instead chooses a writing career. He may be usefully compared to Tayo, the Native American protagonist of Leslie Marmon SILKO’s CEREMONY. Bless Me, Ultima is the first of Anaya’s novels in a socalled identity trilogy. The second novel, Heart of Aztlán (1976), features Jason Chávez, the young friend from Bless Me, Ultima, who introduces Antonio to the mystical aspects of nature. Heart of Aztlán, like its predecessor, features Crispin, a curandera who guides both Jason and his father, Clemente, but the setting changes when the Chávez family moves from rural Guadalupe to the Albuquerque barrio of Barelas. The family structure disintegrates in these unfamiliar surroundings when they are pressured by the usual urban problems. To guide the family through this microcosm of the post–World War II Chicano experience, Crispin (the mystical poet who carries a magical blue guitar) encourages Jason and his father to work with the unemployed Chicanos of the barrio. Tortuga (1979), the third novel in the New Mexico trilogy, also blends the worlds of realism and myth. The 16-year-old protagonist, Tortuga (turtle), wears a


shell-like full body cast. Tortuga also refers to Tortuga Mountain, the “magic mountain” (a clear allusion to The Magic Mountain, a novel by the 20th-century German author Thomas Mann) that looms above the children’s hospital for victims of paralysis where Tortuga is a patient. The novel traces Tortuga’s yearlong emotional, physical, and spiritual recovery; he is aided by Saloman, the wise shaman who introduces Tortuga to the magic mountain and gives him Crispin’s magic blue guitar. Tortuga is destined to become an artist who will sing the history and truth about his people. Although each novel in the trilogy focuses on a different protagonist, the scholar Margarite Olmos suggests that they may be viewed as a “composite or combined protagonist,” Antonio, Jason and Clemente, and Tortuga each representing different phases of the Chicano story. In the 1990s, Anaya wrote five urban novels—Albuquerque (this is the original spelling of the city) (1992); Zia Summer (1995); Rio Grande Fall (1996), Jalamanta: A Message from the Desert (1996), and Shaman Winter (1999)—all of which focus on Chicano protagonists who must accept their separation from the land and fashion strong communal bonds within their urban environments. Albuquerque features González, a young boxer of both Mexican and Anglo parentage; Jalamanta traces the efforts of Jalamanta, who, after wandering in the desert for 30 years, returns to convey his message of harmony and unity to city dwellers. In Zia Summer, Rio Grande Fall, and Shaman Winter, however, Anaya employs the methods of the detective fiction genre. Having briefly introduced the detective Sonny Baca in Albuquerque, in Zia Summer Sonny becomes the protagonist who must solve the murder of his cousin and reveal the connected elements of political corruption. In Rio Grande Fall, Sonny is transmogrified into one of the shamanic seers familiar to Anaya readers, and in Shaman Winter Anaya pits Sonny against Raven, the evil brujo (sorcerer) first encountered in Zia Summer. Anaya’s detective novels have frequently been likened to those of Tony HILLERMAN, who writes in a similar vein of his Native American detectives and protagonists. Although now professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico, Anaya continues to write fiction and

nonfiction, seeking innovative ways to tell his version of the Chicano story.

NOVELS Albuquerque. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1992. Bless Me, Ultima. Berkeley, Calif.: Quinto Sol Publications, 1972. Heart of Aztlán. Berkeley, Calif.: Editorial Justa, 1976. Jalamanta: A Message from the Desert. New York: Warner Books, 1996. The Legend of La Llorona. Berkeley, Calif.: Tonatiuh/Quinto Sol Publications, 1984. Lord of the Dawn: The Legend of Quetzalcóatl. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987. Rio Grande Fall. New York: Warner Books, 1996. Shaman Winter. New York: Warner Books, 1999. Tortuga. Berkeley, Calif.: Editorial Justa, 1979. Reprint, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995. Zia Summer. New York: Warner Books, 1995.

SOURCES Baeza, Abelardo. Keep Blessing Us, Ultima: A Teaching Guide for “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya. Austin, Tex.: Easkin Press, 1997. Bruce-Novoa, Juan D. Chicano Authors: Inquiry by Interview. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980, 183–202. ———. Retrospace: Collected Essays on Chicano Literature. Houston, Tex.: Arte Publico Press, 1990. Candelaria, Cordelia. “Rudolfo Alfonso Anaya (1937– ).” In Chicano Literature: A Reference Guide, edited by Julio A. Martínez and Francisco A. Lomelí, 34–51. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985. Dick, Bruce, and Silvio Sirias. Conversations with Rudolfo Anaya. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998. González-T., César A., ed. Rudolfo A. Anaya: Focus on Criticism. La Jolla, Calif.: Lalo Press, 1990. Lattin, Vernon E., ed. Contemporary Chicano Fiction: A Critical Survey. Binghamton, N.Y.: Bilingual Press, 1986. Saldívar, Ramón. Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990. Sommers, Joseph, and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, eds. Modern Chicano Writers: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1979. Tatum, Charles. Chicano Literature. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982. Vassallo, Paul, ed. The Magic of Words: Rudolfo A. Anaya and His Writings. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982.


OTHER “Rudolfo Anaya.” Time Warner Bookmark. Available online. URL: twbookmark.com/authors/45/936/index.html. Accessed August 19, 2005. Olmos, Margarite Fernández. Rudolfo A. Anaya. Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers Online (2002). Greenwood Electronic Media. Available online by subscription. URL: http://gw2.scbbs.com/cc/cc.jsp?bk=anaya&id= 1-1. Accessed August 20, 2005.

ANDERSON, SHERWOOD (1876–1941) Sherwood Anderson is best remembered for Winesburg, Ohio (1919), a short-story cycle that had an enormous influence on individual writers in particular and on American literary history in general. In 1925, literary critic H. L. Mencken praised Anderson as a significant, original novelist. He wrote seven novels and two fictionalized autobiographies, A Story-Teller’s Story (1924) and Tar: A Midwest Childhood (1926) as well as Memoirs (1942). Anderson is still admired for his sympathetic portrayals of the isolated, “grotesque” (a word he used frequently), and the lonely, sexually repressed characters of his fictional Midwest, a place changing rapidly in an increasingly technological and materialistic world. His influence is evident in comments made by such literary giants as William FAULKNER, who has said that Anderson was the “father” of Faulkner’s generation of writers and of the American modernist movement itself. Anderson, who always helped other writers (Faulkner, Ernest HEMINGWAY, and Thomas WOLFE, for instance), was one of the very first to incorporate Freud’s theories and to understand the significance of sexuality in people’s lives. He joins Washington Irving, Nathaniel HAWTHORNE, and Edgar Allan POE as an innovator in the short-story form. Sherwood Anderson was born on September 13, 1876, in Camden, Ohio, to Irwin M. Anderson, a harness maker, and Emma Smith Anderson. Because of his responsibilities to his family, Anderson completed only one year of high school. He served in the U.S. Army in Cuba in 1899, married Cornelia Lane in 1904, and became a prosperous businessman. Much has been written about how he deserted his family during a now legendary midlife crisis. He moved to Chicago during its “little renaissance,” was influenced by such early

modernists as Carl Sandburg, Vachel Lindsay, and Edgar Lee Masters, and published his first novel, Windy McPherson’s Son, in 1916, two years before he divorced his first wife. He married Tennessee Mitchell; that marriage lasted eight years. Much of his autobiography surfaces in Sam McPherson, who rises from humble beginnings in Caxton, Iowa, to a prosperous career and marriage to the boss’s daughter. He abandons it all for love, returning at the end to a bleak future. His second novel, Marching Men (1917), likewise used the heroic plot in which an impoverished youth, through a grand desire to achieve power and to redress economic ills, attempts to organize the American labor movement. He miscalculates the needs of his fellow humans, as well as his own. When Anderson began to focus on more modest people as he did in Winesburg, Ohio (1919), he found his métier. Each of the “grotesques,” as he called them, was a misfit with odd habits and predilections, but Anderson reveals to the reader the sweetness at the core of each inhabitant of Winesburg, Ohio. Critics are divided over whether Poor White (1920) or DARK LAUGHTER (1925) is Anderson’s best novel. They do agree that Poor White succeeds much better than the earlier novels at depicting the rise of its central character, Hugh McVey, to a position of prominence, as an inventor. As many critics have noted, in his depiction of this character, Anderson drew on fellow midwesterner Mark TWAIN and his poor white character, Huckleberry Finn. Many Marriages (1923) depicts John Webster, rebelling against the hypocritical and puritanical dictates of conventional society; he abandons his family for life with his secretary, Natalie. Again in Dark Laughter (1925), (his most popular novel and only best-seller), Anderson celebrates sexuality and satirizes the intellectuals who deny its importance. Beyond Desire (1932) was written out of sympathy for southern mill workers and their tenuous position against the powerful mill owners during the Great Depression. Anderson’s last novel, Kit Brandon (1936), was published after his 1932 divorce from Elizabeth Prall and his marriage to Eleanor Copenhaver in 1933. Anderson’s only novel about bootlegging, it is set in the Appalachian mountains and features Kit Brandon, a mountain woman who


becomes a wealthy bootlegger after the failure of her marriage. She is much like Sam McPherson in desire and direction. Sherwood Anderson lived out his final years in an apparently happy marriage with his fourth wife, publishing four nonfiction books, and journalistic pieces. His memoirs were published the year after his death. A growing number of writers had acknowledged their debt to him: besides Faulkner, Hemingway, and Wolfe, John STEINBECK, William SAROYAN, and Raymond Carver, among others, have noted Anderson’s influence. Anderson died of peritonitis on March 8, 1941, in Panama.

NOVELS Beyond Desire. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1932. Dark Laughter. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1925. Kit Brandon. New York: Scribner, 1936. Many Marriages. New York: B. W. Huebsch, 1923. Marching Men. New York: John Lane, 1917. Poor White. New York: B. W. Huebsch, 1920. Windy McPherson’s Son. New York: John Lane, 1916. Rev. ed. New York: B. W. Huebsch, 1922.

SOURCES Anderson, David D. Sherwood Anderson: An Introduction and Interpretation. New York: Holt, 1967. ———, ed. Sherwood Anderson: Dimensions of His Literary Art. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1976. ———, ed. Critical Essays on Sherwood Anderson. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981. Bridgman, Richard. The Colloquial Style in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966. Burbank, Rex. Sherwood Anderson. Boston: Twayne, 1964. Howe, Irving. Sherwood Anderson. New York: William Sloane Associates, 1951. Kazin, Alfred. On Native Grounds. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1942. Rideout, Walter B., ed. Sherwood Anderson: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1974. Schevill, James. Sherwood Anderson: His Life and Work. Denver, Colo.: University of Denver Press, 1951. Small, Judy Jo. A Reader’s Guide to the Short Stories of Sherwood Anderson. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1994. Sutton, William A. Exit to Elsinore. Muncie, Ind.: Ball State University Press, 1967. ———. The Road to Winesburg: A Mosaic of the Imaginative Life of Sherwood Anderson. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1972.

Taylor, Welford Dunaway. Sherwood Anderson. New York: Ungar, 1977. Townsend, Kim. Sherwood Anderson. Boston: Houghton, 1988. Walcutt, Charles C. American Literary Naturalism: A Divided Stream. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1956. Weber, Brom. Sherwood Anderson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1964. White, Ray Lewis, ed. The Achievement of Sherwood Anderson. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966.

ANGELOU, MAYA (1928– ) Maya Angelou became a national figure after President Bill Clinton asked her to read her poetry at his inaugural in 1993. She had been known and admired widely, however, among readers for the past two decades. Angelou had already published five autobiographical works that charted her life from age three to her mid-30s. The first of these, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970), became an immediate best-seller and was made into a CBS made-for-television movie. As scholars Lyman B. Hagen and Ernece B. Kelly and others point out, however, Angelou’s works, particularly Caged Bird, are more properly called “autobiographical novels” (Hagen, 55) rather than autobiographies. Angelou, whose writing has earned her nominations for a Pulitzer Prize and an American Book Award, is also known for her versatility in the creative arts, having filled the roles of actress, dancer, playwright, producer, and director, as well as author, poet, and civil rights activist. Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Bailey Johnson, Sr., a doorman, and Vivian Baxter Johnson, a nurse and card dealer. After her parents divorced when she was three years old, Angelou was reared in Stamps, Arkansas, and Southern California. She adopted the name Maya Angelou in her early 20s while a dancer at the Purple Onion in San Francisco. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published when she was 42 years old, takes its title from Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s poem, “Sympathy,” and uses numerous novelistic devices to tell Marguerite’s story. It is a coming-of-age-story, complete with a disturbing description of her rape by one of her mother’s boyfriends when she was eight years old. This specific ordeal occurs against the backdrop of poverty, discrimination, and white racism. The technique Angelou uses to describe


her survival resembles slave narrative, a significant genre in African-American literature. In Gather Together in My Name (1974) Angelou continues the story. Marguerite (Ritie), now a young mother, succumbs to, and ultimately surmounts, the roadblocks of prostitution and drugs, and her tendency to romanticize the men in her life. In Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976) Angelou marries a white sailor, Tosh Angelos, and travels throughout Europe with a role in the musical Porgy and Bess. She feels guilty about leaving her son, returns to the United States and to motherhood and serious pursuit of her career. In the fourth volume, The Heart of a Woman (1981), most critics see a psychological depth reminiscent of that achieved in Caged Bird. The Heart of a Woman blends her commitment to becoming a writer, encouraged by Paule MARSHALL and others, with her commitment to the Civil Rights movement, encouraged by her meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King. She also briefly marries, then divorces, Vusuzmi Make, a South African freedom fighter, and lives in South Africa until she realizes that she is an African American not an African. In the final volume, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), Angelou travels throughout Africa where she feels free of the tyranny of color and gender: in Africa she finds herself judged on the basis of her merits. Maya Angelou has been Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University since 1981. Assured of a place in American literary history, she continues to be accessible to young audiences through her frequent appearances on the university lecture circuit.

NOVELS All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes. New York: Random House, 1986. Gather Together in My Name. New York: Random House, 1974. The Heart of a Woman. New York: Random House, 1981. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York: Random House, 1970. Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas. New York: Random House, 1976.

SOURCES Arensberg, Liliane K. “Death as a Metaphor of Self in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” College Language Association Journal 20 (December 1976): 273–291.

“The Black Scholar Interviews Maya Angelou,” Black Scholar 8 (January–February 1977): 44–53. Demetrakopoulos, Stephanie A. “The Metaphysics of Matrilinearism in Women’s Autobiography.” In Women’s Autobiography: Essays in Criticism, edited by Estelle C. Jelinek, 180–205. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980. Eliot, Jeffrey M., ed. Conversations with Maya Angelou. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1989. Hagen, Lyman B. Heart of a Woman, Mind of a Writer, and Soul of a Poet: A Critical Analysis of the Writings of Maya Angelou. Lanham, N.Y.: University Press of America, 1997. Kent, George E. “Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Black Autobiographical Tradition,” Kansas Quarterly 7 (Summer 1975): 72–78. Lupton, Mary Jane. Maya Angelou. Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers Online. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002. McMurry, Myra K. “Role Playing as Art in Maya Angelou’s Caged Bird,” South Atlantic Bulletin 41 (May 1976): 106–111. Smith, Sidonie A. “The Song of a Caged Bird: Maya Angelou’s Quest after Self-Acceptance,” Southern Humanities Review 7 (Fall 1973): 365–375. Stepto, R. B. “The Phenomenal Woman and the Severed Daughter,” review of And Still I Rise and Audre Lorde’s The Black Unicorn, Parnassus: Poetry in Review 8 (Fall/Winter 1979): 312–320.

ANGLE OF REPOSE WALLACE STEGNER (1972) Angle of Repose, for which Wallace STEGNER won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972, was written from 1968 to 1970, a turbulent period in U.S. history. Without directly discussing the Vietnam War, the cause for much of the turbulence, Stegner addresses the unrest of the times by weaving together a complicated web of social and political history, geography, and personal experience. His narrator, Lyman Ward, is a retired historian with a degenerative bone disease, which has led to the amputation of his leg. He is separated from his wife and estranged from his son, Rodman. Seeking truths for his own life in his family history, Lyman sorts through letters and documents left by his grandmother, Susan Burling Ward, a genteel eastern lady who settled in the American West at the end of the 19th century. Ada Hawkes, faithful family employee, cares for Lyman’s physical needs; her daughter Shelly, in the midst of a marital crisis herself, becomes Lyman’s secretary and sometime psychologist.


The plot is straightforward, but the structure is complex. The novel is marked by a double narrative, with Lyman’s story interrupting Susan’s story, three marriage plots, and the constant shifting between the epistolary and first-person formats. It addresses themes concerning the mythology versus the reality of the West, the influences of the East and West Coasts upon one another, and the necessity of finding the proper balance between individualism and cooperation, freedom and domestic happiness, art and life, and justice and mercy. The overlay of modern structural complexity and postmodern alternative readings upon the Victorian material may disturb the casual reader; but Angle of Repose merits more than a casual read. Classism and many other elitist attitudes, including race prejudice, follow Susan Burling to the West, where she meets and marries Oliver Ward, an adventurer and inventor who is charmed by her eastern airs. In fact, Lyman believes that his grandmother’s snobbishness—her dedication to the Hudson River School of art, her devotion to wealthy eastern friends and their styles of dress and conversation, and her frequent denigration of her husband’s practical talents—is the key to her personality and to her later fall from grace. The West, the narrator insists, was settled by easterners such as she, who depended on eastern capital and brought with them eastern values. Not all of those values were destructive. Lyman sympathizes with his grandmother’s desire to make a home. Stegner’s biographer, Jackson Benson, points out that “the boomer husband and the nesting wife” were staples of the author’s fiction (Benson, 48), noting that Stegner drew on his own childhood with a restless bootlegger father and a nurturing mother for this material. Yet while “nesting” civilized the Wild West, it sometimes also prevented society from moving forward. Oliver Ward is by nature a visionary, but Susan, always wanting stability for her children, keeps him from reaching his full potential. She also continually apologizes to her eastern friend Augusta about what she perceives as Oliver’s inadequacies. She confesses to a “failure of faith” in her husband and his projects. A nonverbal, pragmatic man who works as a mining and irrigation engineer, Oliver believes he is inferior to his wife, and he eventually begins to drink.

Susan supports the family with her artwork and sentimental stories about the West, which she sends to eastern literary magazines. She is Stegner’s model, in many ways, for the liberated woman. However, she suffers from too much confidence in language. With the modernist’s self-reflexive doubt, Stegner portrays Susan as substituting art for life. Remaining aloof from her community, the narrator says, “She mined and irrigated every slightest incident, she wrote and drew her life instead of living it” (399). Susan also flirts with Frank Sargent, Oliver’s assistant. Her isolation from family and community has caused her to rely on him for protection and companionship. Tragedy results when the two begin to meet secretly, violating Oliver’s trust. Susan and Oliver’s third child, Agnes, drowns in the irrigation ditch built by her father when Susan and Frank let her roam near its banks while they converse. Frank commits suicide, Oliver never forgives Susan, who suffers extreme guilt, and the couple’s son Ollie refuses to see his mother for 10 years. When Lyman discovers (or imagines) this tragedy, he realizes why his grandparents lived in “an angle of repose” with each other. They propped one another up, he believes, but he never saw them touch. An “angle of repose” is the slant required in construction to avoid a cave-in. The banks in this case did not cave in, but they destroyed a child, a friend and a marriage. Lyman, heretofore “a justice man, not a mercy man” (443), hopes now to be “a bigger man than [his] grandfather” and considers forgiving his own wife, who left him after he lost his leg (569). Since Stegner disdained Americans’ “contempt for all history, including our own” (“Twilight,” 191), he bases Angle of Repose upon actual historical documents: the letters, drawings, and fiction of Mary Hallock Foote. (Note: See Benson for a discussion of the controversy surrounding Stegner’s use of her family history, for which he assumed he had permission.) But the “angle” whose possibilities of “repose” he explores in Lyman’s dream at the end of that novel exceeds by several degrees the width of the “angle” for which his grandparents settle. Stegner addresses future possibilities for change with his characteristic western “optimism about the possible”(“Twilight,” 212). In doing so he also seeks to offer “repose”


to a society troubled by the discord of the 1960s and to provide a vision of the American identity interpreted through the artist’s imagination.

SOURCES Benson, Jackson J. Wallace Stegner: His Life and Work. New York: Penguin, 1996. Stegner, Wallace. Angle of Repose. New York: Penguin, 1971. ———. “The Twilight of Self-Reliance.” In Marking the Sparrow’s Fall, edited by Page Stegner. New York: Holt, 1998. Gwen Neary

ANNIE JOHN JAMAICA KINCAID (1985) In this autobiographical bildungsroman set in the colonial Antigua of Jamaica KINCAID’s own childhood, adolescence is figured as loss: loss of the protagonist’s irreplaceable bond with her mother, loss of friends that she outgrows, and finally loss of home, as, having come of age, Annie John strikes out on her own and embarks for England. Yet the novel also shows adolescence as a time of spirited rebellion: like Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Annie John rails against injustice, forging an independent identity in spite of the forces that oppress her (in Annie’s case, these are racial, cultural, and patriarchal). The novel’s open-ended conclusion leaves unresolved this tension between the pathos of separation and the triumph of hard-won autonomy. Originally published as a series of short stories in the New Yorker, the novel is episodic. The first sections of the novel depict 10-year-old Annie’s relationship with her mother as a paradise of shared experience: they share the same name, wear the same clothes, bathe together, and go to market together, with Annie following “ever in her [mother’s] wake” (17). That Annie is the center of her mother’s world is symbolized by the hope chest in which her mother has stored everything associated with Annie’s life: no artifact is too trivial, and each becomes the subject of an anecdote that is a piece of the larger narrative. The inspiration for the hope chest and its stories is autobiographical: Calling her mother “the fertile soil” of her “creative life,” Kincaid muses, “Clearly the way I became a writer was that my mother wrote my life for me and told it to me” (O’Conner, 6). The growing estrangement between mother and daughter with

which the rest of the novel (and much of Kincaid’s work) is concerned is also rooted in the author’s experience. In interviews, Kincaid candidly describes how her “love affair” with her mother abruptly came to an end when her brother was born. It is Annie’s mother who initiates the estrangement between the two, and not, as in Kincaid’s life, because another child is born, but rather because she seems to have suddenly decided it is time for Annie to grow up. As she somewhat callously tells her daughter, “you can’t be a little me” (26). Annie perceives her mother’s growing distance as abandonment, and a betrayal of their intimacy. Annie ’s sense of abandonment is converted into a vehement rejection of her mother. This repudiation embroils Annie in a battle of deceit and secrecy, as she combats her mother’s perceived treachery with her own actual treachery—lying, stealing, and sneaking out after school. Annie’s rising adolescent rebellion merges with the anticolonial subtext of the novel, as Annie comes to reject the authority of not only her mother but also her English school mistresses. Much as Kincaid reportedly refused to sing “Rule Britannia!” in school—objecting to the line “Britons never shall be slaves” on the grounds that “we weren’t Britons and we were slaves” (Cudjoe, 397)—Annie rejects the colonial values she is being taught, writing graffiti beneath a picture of Christopher Columbus in her history book. Her punishment takes the shape of being forced to honor the English canon by copying the first two books of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. As Annie struggles to form an independent identity, she must confront the legacy of colonial domination, which is a privileging of all things English. Annie’s rebellion serves to strand her in an adolescent wonderland, with her body undergoing confusing changes, and a conspiracy of social and political values that are bewildering at best. The two temporarily sustaining friendships she forges mark the poles of imaginable feminine behavior. The one with Gwen embodies the code of polite womanhood celebrated at school and at home, and the other with the “Red Girl,” who refuses to bathe, plays marbles, and climbs trees, defies supposed feminine propriety. Eventually reject-


ing both models, Annie is left trying to navigate her way through adolescence without a map or a rudder. Despite Annie’s apparent independence, her separation from her mother on the one hand and her friends on the other leaves her dangerously alienated and ultimately prompts a nervous breakdown. In this impressionistic and intriguing section of the novel, the wonderland of adolescence shows its terrifying side, as Annie alternately feels that she is disappearing, levitating, or being torn to pieces. Overcome by a profound malaise that descends upon her like a mist, she stops eating and retreats into an infantile state, spending the day in bed, while her parents care for her as though she were a baby. Though she is estranged from her mother, Annie is in effect “rescued” by her maternal grandmother, Ma Chess, who uses obeah, an Africanbased practice of exercising power over the spirit world. According to both Simone Alexander and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, the role of Ma Chess is to show a redemptive female-female family relationship, and to affirm the tenacious power of African-derived tradition in a colonial setting. The novel ends ambivalently as Annie embarks on a sea journey to England, where she intends to study to become a nurse. This may be interpreted as a final step toward independence, although Annie’s destination, the colonial “motherland,” in its inconsistency with the novel’s critique of colonialism, seems to undercut the theme of independence. Nonetheless, critics tend to read the ending with qualified optimism. Donna Perry focuses on the implication that ahead of Annie is a new life for which “her apprenticeship in Antigua has prepared her” (247). Antonia MacDonald-Smythe points out that in the classic, male bildungsroman, the protagonist is reabsorbed into a society that, though deficient, can accommodate him, whereas in the “creolized” form, the resolution is less triumphant, since the protagonist may be absorbed by the wrong society. Kincaid’s openendedness, though, may reflect the process of constructing female subjectivity. Finally, we may read Kincaid’s tentative ending as representing Annie’s “fragile victory” of separation from her mother and her homeland (Cudjoe, 407). In this light, we can interpret the voyage with which the novel ends as another

beginning, in which Annie sets off on the next journey in an ongoing quest for independence.

SOURCES Alexander, Simone James. Mother Imagery in the Novels of Afro-Caribbean Women. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2001. Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: Jamaica Kincaid. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1998. Cudjoe, Selwyn R. “Jamaica Kincaid and the Modernist Project: An Interview,” Callaloo 12 (Spring 1989): 396–411. Ferguson, Moira. Jamaica Kincaid: Where the Land Meets the Body. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994. Kincaid, Jamaica. Annie John. New York: Penguin Books, 1986. MacDonald-Smythe, Antonia. Making Homes in the West Indies: Constructions of Subjectivity in the Writings of Michelle Cliff and Jamaica Kincaid. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 2001. Paravisini-Gebert, Lizabeth. Jamaica Kincaid: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Perry, Donna. “Initiation in Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John.” In Caribbean Women Writers: Essays from the First International Conference, edited by Selwyn R. Cudjoe, 245–253. Wellesley, Mass.: Calaloux Publications, 1990. Phillips, Caryl. Review of Island in the Dark: ‘A Small Place.’ Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 17, 1988, p. 1. Simmons, Diane. Jamaica Kincaid. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994. Tapping, Craig. “Children and History in the Caribbean Novel: George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin and Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John,” Kunapipi 9 (1989): 51–59. Timothy, Helen Pyne. “Adolescent Rebellion and Gender Relations in At the Bottom of the River and Annie John.” In Caribbean Women Writers: Essays from the First International Conference, edited by Selwyn R. Cudjoe, 233–242. Wellesley, Mass.: Calaloux Publications, 1990. Carey Snyder

ANNIE KILBURN WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS (1888) Often overshadowed by The RISE

OF SILAS LAPHAM (1885) and A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES (1890), William Dean HOWELLS’s Annie Kilburn (1888) is an important novel for understanding Howells’s development as a novelist and a social critic. More than 100 years after its publication, it stands as one of Howells’s strongest fictional stances against social inequities in American capitalism and its treatment of


the poor and working classes. In an era of “red” states and “blue” states, an age in which the plight of workers is diminished in favor of corporate interests, Howells’s description of the conflict over American identity is also remarkably resonant. The battle today, as in this novel, is framed as a battle for the identity and character of the nation, over what version of America will survive. The novel opens with Annie Kilburn returning from Europe to her hometown of Dorchester Farms— now called Hatboro, after its primary economic product, straw hats—to “try to be of some use to the world—[to] try to do some good—and in Hatboro I think I shall know how” (645). Her confidence is shaken, however, upon seeing the class segregation, the industrially altered landscape, and the bustling commercial activity in the sleepy rural town of her memory. She is particularly appalled when she is taken to a local factory to see industrial America firsthand. There, she witnesses a type of modern slavery in which “tireless machines march[ing] back and forth” are the masters of the “men who watched them with suicidal intensity.” In one of Howells’s most direct representations of the dehumanization of industrial capitalism, Annie cannot help but think of “the men and women who were operating it, and who seemed no more a voluntary part of it than all the rest” (741). Conversing with some of the prominent townspeople, Annie is drawn into their attempt to start a “Social Union” to break down the barriers between the rich and the poor. Hatboro’s elite envision producing plays (starting, ironically, with Romeo and Juliet, a tragedy grounded in irreconcilable feuds between countrymen) in order to raise money for the town’s working poor, as well as organizing lectures and concerts “to show them that the best people in the community have their interests at heart, and wish to get on common ground with them” (672). Their patronizing attitudes are revealed further as Annie learns that a dinner planned for after the play does not include the workers, “the socially objectionable element” who are the supposed beneficiaries of this largesse (672). Annie has mixed emotions, and she confronts her own complicity in these condescending attitudes toward the working poor. She is forced to wonder “how her own life was in any wise different from that of those people. . . .

She too was idle and vapid, like the society of which her whole past had made her a part” (716). As many of his biographers note, Howells expressed similar selfscrutiny as he finished this novel. In an 1888 letter to Henry JAMES, he admits, “after fifty years of optimistic contention with ‘civilization’ and its ability to come out all right in the end, I now abhor it and feel that it is coming out all wrong . . . unless it bases itself anew on a real equality. Meantime, I wear a fur-lined overcoat and live in all the luxury my money can buy” (Howells 1979, 3:268). Like Annie, he struggles with the recognition that social and economic circumstances needed to change but that he was somehow complicit in the very class system that obstructed the poor and was powerless to enact any meaningful change. The strongest voice for the needs of the poor comes from the town’s new minister, Reverend Peck. As many critics and biographers have noted, Peck is a representation of Leo Tolstoy’s ideas of Christian Socialism, which Howells was reading deeply and thoughtfully during this time. Tolstoy’s call to give up one’s wealth and status to live and work among the peasants struck a chord with Howells as he turned his attention to what he saw as fundamental contradictions between American Christianity, the practices of industrial capitalism, and the basic principles of democracy (see Cady, 7–10, and Alexander, 61–100). Annie Kilburn, like a great deal of Howells’s work from this period, wrestles with Tolstoy’s altruistic ideas and whether they could actually change the deeprooted problems of America’s economic imbalances. Peck sees through the shallow intentions and hypocrisies of the Social Union and his sermons challenge the cultural authority of Hatboro’s leaders. After Annie asks for his participation in planning the event, Peck refuses, explaining that the cultural elite “proceed on the assumption that working people can neither see nor feel a slight. . . . good is from the heart, and there is no heart in what they propose” (682–83). Annie counters Peck’s argument by quoting her father’s idea that true social equality as a “principle could never govern society, and that . . . to try to mix the different classes would be un-American” (683). Peck’s response rejects Kilburn’s fixed notions of American identity, claiming, “We don’t know what is or will be American


yet” (684). In fact, he maintains that America is fighting another, silent civil war: “The lines are drawn harder and faster between the rich and the poor, and on either side the forces are embattled” (804). He explains that a false sense of “Americanism” has perpetuated the barbarism of the industrial age; that the individual with social or economic power has been “forgetful or ignorant of the ruin on which his success is built” (805). Indeed, the entire novel provides a spectrum of late19th-century interpretations of “America” and “American.” Adherence to tradition, Emersonian selfreliance, benevolent patronage, and Christian socialism all contend for cultural authority in the novel. William Gerrish, one of the newer citizens who runs Hatboro’s first department store, is the voice of American business in the Gilded Age. Talking about the workers and his role as a boss, Gerrish proclaims, “You’ve got to put your foot down, as Mr. [Abraham] Lincoln said; and as I say, you’ve got to keep it down” (696). Gerrish, proud of his rags-to-riches background, does not condone what he perceives as “pampering those who have not risen, or have made no effort to rise” and believes in rigid class structures: “I will not allow my wife or my children to associate with those whose—whose—whose idleness, or vice, or whatever, has kept them down in a country where— where everybody stands on an equality” (699). Gerrish, contradicting Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount, also makes sure everyone recognizes his beneficence, his contributions to improve the moral and economic benefit of the town, everything “from the drinking fountain in front of this store to the soldiers’ monument on the village green” (697). Gerrish’s selective memory of his own rise (as well as the historical proclamations of Lincoln, twisted to fit his own ideals) is weakly contested by Squire Putney, a remnant of the old power structure of Dorchester Farms, who is unable to effect any prolonged significant change because he is an alcoholic. Though he sees through the bombast of Gerrish and the way American history and Christian ideals are manipulated to the benefit of those in power, he is powerless to confront the social problems brought on in industrial America. The days of the intellectual aristocracy

are past, an idea Howells reinforces by giving Putney’s son Winthrop a handicap; his “white face had the eager purity and the waxen translucence which we see in sufferers of hip-disease” (717). The mental and physical diseases of the Putneys represent the inability of America’s fading genteel class to effect positive, progressive change. Peck’s ideals do not escape Howells’s scrutiny, either. Reminding the citizens of Hatboro that they “have been guilty of forgetting [their] brother’s weakness,” his behavior reveals its own mnemonic shortcomings. On several occasions he forgets about his daughter, leaving her behind after lecturing about social reform and brotherhood, a sign that Howells was not entirely comfortable about those who adhere only to a doctrine of ideals. Peck’s strong words to Annie—“sympathy— common feeling—the sense of fraternity—can spring only from like experiences, like hopes, like fears. And money cannot buy these”—are diminished by the fact that he leaves his daughter sleeping in Annie’s arms and comes for her only when reminded by Annie’s housekeeper Mrs. Bolton (684). Thus, while Gerrish and Peck have wildly different beliefs of how society should be organized, their respective idealism reveals lapses in memory. In the end, though, men like Gerrish seem to triumph, as Peck, the spokesman for Tolstoy’s humanitarian Christianity, is killed by a train, an iron symbol of progress and speed. Yet Annie has changed, since she realizes, as Kenneth Eble notes, that “the particular ills that fall upon the lower classes are the result of a social system which will not be remedied by charitable gestures from a well-meaning aristocracy or by appeal to past traditions of morality or power” (104). Altering her initial plans, Annie no longer desires to change the world, but to do what good she can do in her community to ease adversity. Howells, though, continued to explore America’s social and economic problems, despite his ambivalence about whether or not his fiction could stimulate meaningful change when he himself lived in luxury and comfort. In typical Howellsian fashion, Annie Kilburn poses no solutions, but it does remain somewhat optimistic that social change, however slow in coming, was possible, and that fiction could play a role in the transition.


SOURCES Alexander, William. William Dean Howells: The Realist as Humanist. New York: Bert Franklin, 1981. Cady, Edwin H. The Realist at War: The Mature Years of William Dean Howells, 1885–1920. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1958. Eble, Kenneth. William Dean Howells. 2nd ed. Boston: Twayne, 1982. Howells, William Dean. Annie Kilburn, 1888. In William Dean Howells: Novels, 1886–1888, edited by Don L. Cook, 641–865. New York: Library of America, 1989. ———. Selected Letters. Edited by George Arms et al. 6 vols. Boston: Twayne, 1979. Nettles, Elsa. Language, Race, and Social Class in Howells’s America. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1988. Lance Rubin

ANSA, TINA McELROY (1949– ) Tina McElroy Ansa takes for her subject the lives of middleand upper-middle class African Americans in the post1960s Civil Rights movement era. She is the author of Baby of the Family (1989), Ugly Ways (1993), The Hand I Fan With (1996), and You Know Better (2002). All four novels are both popular and critical successes, and the first three are award winners. Tina McElroy Ansa was born on November 18, 1949, in Macon, Georgia, to Walter J. McElroy, a businessman, and Nellie Lee McElroy, a teacher’s assistant. She was educated at Spelman College, receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1971. After nearly eight years as a journalist with the Atlanta Constitution and the Charlotte Observer, she married filmmaker Jonée Ansa on May 1, 1978. In 1984, they moved to St. Simons Island, one of Georgia’s Sea Islands, home of a former plantation still inhabited in part by the descendants of slaves. When Ansa wrote her first novel, Baby of the Family, in 1989, she drew on the folklore of St. Simons midwives as well as on her knowledge of Macon, the town she fictionalizes as Mulberry in all her novels. The novel focuses on Lena, a young girl who was born with a caul (a membrane enclosing a fetus in the womb; if part of this is found on a child’s head at birth, it is thought to be a charm against drowning). Endowing Lena with special gifts, such as the ability to see ghosts, Ansa creates an unusual coming-of-age story. It ends with a meeting

between Lena and her grandmother’s ghost. The ghosts assure her of her spiritual powers. A cinematic version of Baby of the Family is being filmed in Macon as well as in south Georgia. Ugly Ways, set in the same Georgia town, is narrated from the perspectives of four sisters, Betty, Annie, Ruth, and Emily, all of whom have something to say about what mothering means in the AfricanAmerican community: The mother of the sisters, Esther Lovejoy, known as Mudear, has raised them to be selfreliant, perhaps to a fault: The reader must decide. The Hand I Fan With, Ansa’s third novel, again set in Mulberry, is the sequel to Baby of the Family. Here, Lena reminisces about her childhood and her tendency to be “the hand that everyone fans with.” She falls in love with Herman, a sexy ghost, who teaches her not to give away too much of herself. Ansa’s most recent novel, You Know Better, (also with some visiting ghosts), is set in Mulberry during the Peach Blossom Festival. It features three generations of women: LaShawndra Pines, who is running around unsupervised; her mother, Sandra, busy pursuing her real estate career and a possible love affair with a minister, and her grandmother, Lily Paine Pines, a former schoolteacher and principal who looks out for LaShawndra. Ansa and her husband still live on St. Simons Island.

NOVELS Baby of the Family. New York: Harcourt, 1989. The Hand I Fan With. New York: Doubleday, 1996. Ugly Ways. New York: Harcourt, 1993. You Know Better. New York: Morrow, 2002.

SOURCES Cherry, Joyce L. “Tina McElroy Ansa.” In Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson, 1–5. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999.

OTHER African American Literature Book Club. “Tina McElroy Ansa.” Available online. URL: http://authors.aalbc.com/ tina.htm. Accessed May 23, 2005. Tina McElroy Ansa’s Homepage. Available online. URL: http://www.tinamcelroyansa.com/. Accessed May 23, 2005. Voices from the Gaps, Women Writers of Color. “Tina McElroy Ansa.” Available online. URL: http://voices.cla.umn. edu/Bios/entries/ansa_tina_mcelroy.html. Accessed May 23, 2005.


THE ANTELOPE WIFE LOUISE ERDRICH (1998) This novel diverts the saga started in LOVE MEDICINE with the Morriseys, Lamartines and Kashpaws by introducing new families and therefore, different realities and conflicts: For the difficulties resulting from assimilation conflicts and annihilation present in ERDRICH’s earlier novels, Erdrich substitutes problems of identity, searches for roots, and attempts to come to terms with one’s ancestry. The natives of The Antelope Wife are Christian Indians assimilated to Western culture trying to make sense of their backgrounds by confronting issues of adultery, family, names, war, and the realm of the supernatural. Duplicity, duplicate identities through sets of twins, and multiple visions of motherhood complicate these questions. In her attempt to return to a lost past, Erdrich revives the indigenous name of her tribe, calling her people “Anishinabe,” as they call themselves, instead of “Chippewa,” a name imposed by the colonizers, and therefore the official name for U.S. governmental purposes, or “Ojibwa,” the popular name by which their enemies addressed the tribe. Apart from duplicity and motherhood, Erdrich also deals with the question of miscegenation through a peculiar scene: Scranton Roy, a German soldier, breastfeeds Matilda, an Indian baby, whom he finds, wearing a blue necklace, in the middle of the forest. This event takes place, paradoxically, after the soldier has bayoneted an ancient Indian woman who, the reader learns later on, was an ancestor of Matilda’s mother, Blue Prairie Woman. At the same time, Matilda’s mother soothes the pain in her breasts, giving her milk to a puppy whose descendants, as a consequence, start showing human attributes. Milk proves to be the link that joins both lineages, whose descendants will meet in the figures of Rozina Roy and Frank Shawano when they become lovers. Upon growing up, Matilda takes the reins of her destiny: She goes in search of her mother, whom she finds in the forest on the verge of death from a European disease. Matilda still has time to take her name, thus abandoning Scranton Roy and the family he had created to settle in the forest with the antelopes. Animals behave like human beings, dogs talk, and antelopes couple with women, a match that gives birth to a new species

and affirms the existing bond between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. Erdrich’s stories always involve the whole community. Her studies of individual characters focus strongly on the conflict of belonging to two different cultures: European and Native American like herself, from both German and Anishinabe traditions. Lineages find their meeting point in food preparation: Klaus Shawano, the embodiment of the urban Indian, gets his name from Klaus, the German soldier who saves his own life by cooking “the blitzkuchen” with the special ingredient revealed to his descendant only at the end of the novel. The urban Indian Klaus confronts the native of the wilderness Sweetheart Calico, whom he kidnaps, giving her a new name and forcing her to be his wife. Cally, deprived of a voice of her own, remains silent throughout the novel until she reveals at the end that she has been hiding the blue necklace. Meanwhile the question of heritage, along with the practice of storytelling, proves crucial to disentangling the mysteries hidden generation after generation. As the recipient of tradition, Cally becomes enchanted with the past and begins a new life that will cure the sufferings she endured after her twin’s and her father’s deaths. The narrative is structured around family ties and the ceremony of naming, the meaning of which Cally understands when she receives her ancestral inheritance from both grandmothers: Cally is “Magizha,” the namer, the one who receives the names. Marie Shawano and Zosie Roy, twins and mothers of Rozina Roy, are the progeny of the antelopes cohabiting with Indian women. By telling their own life stories, these women start the task of reconstructing the forgotten memory of the tribe, protected and kept secret by them for years. In the figures of Zosie and Marie from the Shawano clan, Erdrich rescues a typical figure of Ojibwa folklore: the windigo, a monstrous figure of the forest whose inner beast inhabits a human form, and under whose influence humans eat human flesh. Life and death, and the thin veil that joins and separates both realities, seem omnipresent in the novel through several interrelated events that take place: the accidental death of Deanna, Cally’s twin sister; the suicide of Richard Whiteheart Beads, Rozina’s husband; the rescue of Matilda as a baby from a sure death; and the


birth of Augustus Roy, among others. The transcendent meaning of the afterlife and the supernatural for the Anishinabe people provides the context for Erdrich’s writings. Deanna and Richard come back from death, unable to cross the line between one reality and the other, and the old woman whom Scranton Roy kills haunts him and his descendants until her story is rescued and told to Cally. Erdrich weaves stories with a fine thread—as, when the novel opens, the twins sew the beads—to create the pattern of life. Beadwork, the art of sewing beads into pieces of clothing, is an ancient tradition in Ojibwa culture. The pattern and the sewing do not start or end, like the round necklace of blue beads that Matilda wears when she’s found by Scranton Roy. They symbolize the circularity of Native time, a continuum with cycles, in contrast to linear Western time, giving Native American reality its distinct perspective.

SOURCES Jacobs, Connie A. The Novels of Louise Erdrich: Stories of Her People. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. Larson, Sidner. Captured in the Middle: Tradition and Experience in Contemporary Native American Writing. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000. Stookey, Lorena L. Louise Erdrich: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Imelda Martin-Junquera

APPLE, MAX (ISAAC) (1941– ) Max Apple, postmodern novelist and short-story writer, is often compared to John BARTH and Robert COOVER, for his mining of popular American culture, to Bernard MALAMUD and Saul BELLOW, for his use of Jewish dialect and humor, and to Nathanael WEST, for his adaptation of the “wild simile” (Weisenburger). Although Apple is known for the short fiction in The Oranging of America and Other Stories (1976) and for his memoirs about his grandfather (Roommates [1994]) and grandmother (I Love Gootie [1998]), he has also written Zip: A Novel of the Left and the Right (1978), a comic view of pop culture, and The Propheteers (1987), a satire on the foibles of wealthy Americans. Apple’s fiction incorporates the fragmentary nature of contemporary culture, including the visual impact of the cartoon. Critic David Foster Wallace associates him with “image-fiction,” a post-

1960s technique that uses pop-culture images to suggest the unknown details in the lives of public figures like Walt Disney or Howard Johnson (Wallace). Max Apple was born on October 22, 1941, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Samuel Apple, a baker, and Betty Goodstein Apple. He was educated at the University of Michigan, where he received his bachelor’s degree (1963) and his doctoral degree (1970). In his first novel, Zip, critics see a parody of traditional, serious Jewish-American novels. Apple uses the liberal Jane Fonda, and the conservative J. Edgar Hoover, in a comic rendition of modern life that blends the various strands of American culture. For instance, a character named Jesus Goldstein represents the Judeo-Christian heritage and, because he is Puerto Rican, adds a Hispanic strand to the mix. The Propheteers focuses on wealthy people in Florida—real public figures imagined by Apple in fictional renderings of greed and materialism: Howard Johnson seeks sites for new motels and plans theme parks for senior citizens; Walt Disney wants to purchase land from Marjorie Merriweather Post, who has just bought Clarence Birdseye’s frozen food concept to add to her cereal fortune. Critic Wallace sees The Propheteers in the new tradition of Jay Cantor, Robert Coover, William T. Vollman, Stephen DIXON, and Don DELILLO. Max Apple continues to writes essays and stories. He is divorced, and lives and works in Houston, Texas, where he has taught at Rice University since 1972.

NOVELS The Propheteers: A Novel. New York: Perennial Library, 1987. Zip: A Novel of the Left and the Right. New York: Viking, 1978.

OTHER Time Warner Bookmark. “Mark Apple.” Available online. URL: http://www.twbookmark.com/authors/8/8/. Accessed July 14, 2005. Campbell, Geeslin. Review of The Propheteers. People Weekly (March 21, 1987). HighBeam Research. Available online. URL: http://www.highbeam.com/library/doc3.asp? DOCID=1G1:4684035. Accessed May 23, 2005. Wallace, David Foster. “E unibus pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction,” The Review of Contemporary Fiction (June 22, 1993). HighBeam Research. Available online. URL: http://www. highbeam.com/library/doc3.asp?DOCID=1G1:13952319. Accessed August 22, 2005.


Weisenburger, Steven. “Structuring the Void: The Struggle for Subjects in Contemporary American Fiction,” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction (June 22, 1993). HighBeam Research. Available online. URL: http://www.highbeam. com/library/doc3.asp?DOCID=1G1:14421352. Accessed August 22, 2005.

APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA JOHN O’HARA (1934) John O’Hara derived the title of his first novel from W. Somerset Maugham’s 1933 play Sheppey, which features Death glibly describing the fate of a man who had tried to elude her: “I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.” O’Hara chose the title based on his conviction that Maugham’s Samarra legend perfectly communicated the inevitability of his own protagonist’s demise (Bruccoli, 99). But while the damned man in Maugham’s work attempts to flee Death, O’Hara’s main character, Julian English, races recklessly toward it. Julian’s perennial overindulgence, selfishness, and immaturity culminates in his own self-destruction three days after the Christmas Eve country club party at which he throws a drink in the face of Harry Reilly, the owner of Julian’s Cadillac agency and a man to whom Julian owes $20,000. The lengths to which Julian goes to poison his social existence before he finally poisons himself (with carbon monoxide) reinforce the novel’s reliance on naturalistic determinism with respect to the inevitability of Julian’s death. But it also reflects O’Hara’s concerns about social conditions in America in the Great Depression, as it is Julian’s fear of ostracism—combined with his underlying desire to revolt against his community of socialites—that ultimately leads to his loss of control, and thus to the loss of his life. Appointment in Samarra takes place in Gibbsville, Pennsylvania, a town O’Hara based on his own hometown of Pottsville. O’Hara’s disdain for Pottsville is well known, and we might assume that his decision to coat Gibbsville in snow is meant to convey the town’s icy nature. The harsh weather certainly reinforces the notion that the book’s characters appear frozen in their existences, and there is a fitting irony in O’Hara’s choice to juxtapose the Christmas season—typically a time of year that engenders warmth between human

beings—and the frigid air of a northeastern winter, which manifests itself both literally and in the town’s collective snobbery. Indeed, Gibbsvillians, and in particular the residents of Lantenengo Street, are by and large a despicable lot. Beneath the town’s thin veneer of social respectability resides a gang of racketeers, such as Ed Charney, whose profound influence in Gibbsville the novel’s narrator makes clear early on: The worst could happen to you [if you didn’t agree with Ed] was you would get held by a couple of the boys while a couple of others kicked you till they got tired kicking you, and then they would put a couple of slugs in you and that was that. (18) Bootlegging constitutes Ed Charney’s principal interest in Gibbsville, and it is the townspeople’s dependence on him to provide the necessary alcoholic complements to their numerous social engagements at the Lantenengo Country Club that put them in his debt; this forms the basis of their social hypocrisy. The Gibbsville elite turn a blind eye to the criminality permeating their town on the grounds that it enables societal standards to remain unencumbered. The tension that exists between the townspeople’s investment in upholding social graces and Ed Charney’s clandestine business ventures lies at the heart of Julian English’s unfortunate decision to toss his highball into the face of Harry Reilly on Christmas Eve, 1930. Clearly, Reilly is no angel. As the narrator explains, “the sheer force of the money everyone knew [Reilly] had” (12) had brought him a good deal of influence in Gibbsville. Julian both desires and disdains this influence, because of the pressures of putting on airs, and of knowing that, in the depression, his Cadillac agency (and thus his livelihood) would disappear where it not for Ed Charney, with whom he does a good business selling getaway cars (Bier, 139). But what Julian fails to see is that, as the agency’s part owner, Reilly, too, is beholden to the mob. While Reilly may be a wealthy socialite, the novel does not suggest that his financial dealings put him in league with the likes of Ed Charney. Julian, on the other hand, is in fact very well acquainted with Charney, and he typically


benefits from Charney’s charity when others in Gibbsville remain at his mercy. Thus, Julian’s weakness lies in his inability to recognize his own hypocrisy, and therefore he remains torn between his desire to acquire greater social power and respectability, and his desire to rebel against Lantenengo Street in its entirety. Julian locates in Harry Reilly the center of his frustration, for if he were more like Reilly (Julian thinks, but will not admit), he would have power and not simply covet it. Throwing his drink in Reilly’s face constitutes a monumental error in judgment, especially considering that Reilly had recently lent Julian $20,000 ($10,000 of which Julian simply squandered). But Julian’s foolishness does not surpass recoverability. That Julian overreads the severity of his situation, however, plays into the naturalistic determinism that ultimately sends him into a tailspin. It is perhaps Julian’s sense of his own failure to disentangle himself from the egocentrism of his social wants that propels him toward suicide—that, and the fact that hereditary factors have already sealed his fate. Julian’s grandfather George English had, like himself, gotten into trouble over money, and also like Julian, his grandfather had committed suicide. Considering that Julian’s father, William Dilworth English, amounts to little more than “a dismal if avid surgeon,” it seems clear that “all told, a family incompetence” exists among the Englishes (Bier, 141). The naturalism at work in O’Hara’s novel is such that the circumstances that Julian’s misdirected act sets in motion conform to the terms of his destiny. Within the logic of O’Hara’s tale, Julian is meant to die by his own hand, and as a result of his own incompetence. But as an indictment of the American moneyed class, Julian’s death does more than simply fulfill the expectations of O’Hara’s naturalism. Appointment in Samarra depicts post–World War America as a land destined for tragedy, as the novel’s sordid array of self-serving socialites and racketeers ensure the production of more men like Julian English.

SOURCES Bier, Jesse. “O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra: His First and Only Real Novel.” In Critical Essays on John O’Hara, edited by Philip B. Eppard, 137–144. New York: G. K. Hall, 1994.

Bruccoli, Matthew J. The O’Hara Concern: A Biography of John O’Hara. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995. O’Hara, John. Appointment in Samarra. 1934. Introduction by John Updike. New York: Vintage, 2003. David Tomkins

ARNOW, HARRIETTE (LOUISA) SIMPSON (1908–1986) Kentucky-born Harriette Simpson Arnow is a writer whose work stands on its own: Readers can understood and appreciate her novels without any recourse to background information. As scholar and critic Wilton Eckley points out, however, the pleasure of reading her novels is enhanced by knowing about Arnow’s kinship with both the beauty and the hardship of Appalachia, the mountains and the Cumberland River. Although she has been called a regionalist and a local-color writer because she portrays her part of Kentucky with such detail, the majority of critics and reviewers understand her universal appeal in the past and now. When she was alive, her books sold well and earned admiring reviews, both Hunter’s Horn (1949) and The DOLLMAKER (1954), in particular, reaching best-seller status. Hunter’s Horn won the Saturday Review Best Novel of 1949 award and came in second only to William FAULKNER’s A Fable for the 1955 National Book Award. Recently, such critics and writers as Joyce Carol OATES have rediscovered The Dollmaker and recognize it for the “American masterpiece” that it is (Oates, Rediscoveries). Arnow’s Kentucky Trilogy begins with Mountain Path (1936), a bildungsroman, continues with Hunter’s Horn, an adventure story featuring a strong woman protagonist, and culminates in The Dollmaker, about another strong woman who faces the dissolution of her family when they leave rural Kentucky for Detroit during World War II. Here Arnow’s themes emerge: the devastating effects of adapting to unfamiliar, especially urban environments and cultures, the importance of place, the strength of women. Harriette Louise Simpson was born on July 7, 1908, in rural Wayne County, Kentucky, the daughter of two teachers. She earned her bachelor of science degree in 1930 from the University of Louisville. After teaching in a Louisville school for a few months, Simpson fell


ill, went to a resort in northern Michigan, and wrote her first novel, Mountain Path. Subsequently, she wrote for the Federal Writers Project (FWP), and met Harold Arnow, a Chicago newspaperman. They married in 1939, living first in the Kentucky hills but moving later to Detroit where jobs were available during World War II. The diverse population in the housing development where they lived was, in Wilton Eckley’s words, a “boiling cauldron of life in a wartime city” (Eckley, 42). It provided Arnow with the material she needed to write The Dollmaker. Shortly afterward, Arnow and her husband moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where they remained for the rest of their lives. Mountain Path relates the coming-of-age tale of a young teacher who agonizes over a dilemma: Should she remain in the mountains with the man and the neighbors she has come to love, or move to a more urban, intellectual environment for which she is now educationally prepared. Hunter’s Horn tells the compelling story of Nunn Ballew. Nearly every reader recognizes Ballew as Arnow’s Kentucky Captain Ahab who, like the protagonist of Herman MELVILLE’s MOBYDICK, is similarly obsessed, in this case with an elusive red fox named King Devil. Ballew has spent his daughter Suse’s education money on hunting dogs, so when he discovers her pregnancy, he orders her to marry the father. The strong, proud, independent Suse has no other options and, as numerous critics and readers have noted, without Arnow’s talent, we might have disliked Ballew for forcing Suse into this marriage. Instead, we respond to Arnow’s sympathetic characterization of this complicated man who, despite his own rebellious nature, lives by the dictates of the communal mores. The Dollmaker depicts the Kentucky hillswoman, Gertie Nevels, who relinquishes her hope for a farm in order to follow her husband to Detroit. Arnow describes at length Gertie’s efforts to stem the disintegration of her family in an alien, mechanistic world. In the 1960s Arnow returned to the issues she addressed in the 1930s while writing for the FWP and published two books about the Cumberland area of Kentucky: Seedtime on the Cumberland (1960) and Flowering of the Cumberland (1963). In 1970, Arnow published The Weedkiller’s Daughter, her only novel that contains no reference to Kentucky. The protagonist,

15-year-old Susie Schnitzer, however, echoes Arnow’s previous strong women who prevail when they remain true to themselves. Through her depictions of these vividly drawn characters, Arnow brought rural Kentucky alive for readers all over the United States.

NOVELS The Dollmaker. New York: Macmillan, 1954. Hunter’s Horn. New York: Macmillan, 1949. The Kentucky Trace: A Novel of the American Revolution. New York: Knopf, 1974. Mountain Path, as Harriette Simpson. New York: CoviciFriede, 1936. Old Burnside. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1977. The Weedkiller’s Daughter. New York: Knopf, 1970.

SOURCES Chung, Haeja K. Harriet Simpson Arnow: Critical Essays on Her Work. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1995. Eckley, Wilton. Harriette Arnow. Boston: Twayne, 1974. Oates, Joyce Carol. “Joyce Carol Oates on Harriette Arnow’s The Dollmaker.” In Rediscoveries, edited by David Madden, 57–67. New York: Crown, 1971. Reprinted as “The Nightmare of Naturalism.” In Oates’s New Heaven, New Earth: Visionary Experience in Literature, 99–110. New York: Vanguard, 1974.

OTHER Allameh, Catherine Jaleh. “Harriette Arnow.” KYLIT—A Site Devoted to Kentucky Writers. Available online. URL: http:// www.english.eku.edu/SERVICES/KYLIT/ARNOW.HTM. Accessed May 23, 2005.


Arrowsmith was one of five major novels that Sinclair LEWIS wrote in the 1920s and the one for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. It was turned into a popular movie in 1931 starring Ronald Colman and Helen Hayes. A best-seller, like his MAIN STREET (1920) and BABBITT (1922), Arrowsmith critiqued a privileged sector of American society: medicine. Because both Main Street and Babbitt had been recommended for the Pulitzer Prize by the Pulitzer Prize Committee and overruled by the trustees of Columbia University, and because he said he did not believe in contests for writers, Lewis turned the prize down, an action that brought him much publicity and increased sales of his novel. As he wrote to Alfred


Harcourt, his publisher, shortly before the award was made public, “I hope they do award me the Pulitzer prize on Arrowsmith—but you know, don’t you, that ever since the Main Street burglary, I have planned that if they ever did award it to me, I would refuse it, with a polite but firm letter which I shall let the press have, and which ought to make it impossible for any one ever to accept the novel prize (not the play or history prize) thereafter without acknowledging themselves as willing to sell out” (quoted in Smith, 203). Lewis was ever the iconoclast, willing to take on such aspects of American society as business, religion, and medicine, and hold them up to intense scrutiny, both infuriating and delighting his readers with his blistering criticism. He is praised by many, including his biographers Mark Schorer and Richard Lingeman, for his intense research into the topics for his novels. That he was the son of a doctor gave him insight into the story of a young man who becomes a doctor and must later choose between being a practicing physician and a researcher. Lewis saw himself in the idealist character of Arrowsmith, having written an obituary in 1941, 10 years before his death, called “The Death of Arrowsmith.” For the novel, Paul De Kruif, a young research scientist who eventually became a popular science writer with his book Microbe Hunters, helped Lewis. They even traveled to the Caribbean to research the people and climate there, something that became important in the novel when Martin Arrowsmith must balance fighting the plague with researching the efficacy of a new vaccine. James Hutchisson sees De Kruif’s contribution as important because he not only helped with research but related his experiences, supplied prototypes for characters, and from his “personal philosophy Lewis extracted the basis for Arrowsmith’s idealism,” contributing to the creation of this “heroic novel” (Hutchisson, 97). During the course of the novel, Arrowsmith goes from general practitioner and part-time veterinarian to a public health official to a researcher at a prominent medical facility. Lewis seems to be proposing a spectrum for the medical profession from pure research to pure business and each of Martin’s experiences place him somewhere along that continuum. When young Martin first becomes interested in medicine, he helps

Doc Vickerson, an alcoholic old general practitioner in his hometown. At medical school he is caught between the austere teachings of the Jewish Dr. Max Gottlieb, professor of bacteriology, and dedicated researcher, and Dr. Lloyd Davidson, a popular professor whose main contribution to Martin’s education is to teach “the proper drugs to give a patient, particularly when you cannot discover what is the matter with him” (Lewis, 41). His stint as assistant director of public health sees him helping a man whose idea of health advocacy is to write poems about fly-swatters and spitting. When Martin becomes a researcher at the famous McGurk Institute and is able to concentrate on scientific investigation rather than patients, he should be happy. Yet despite his seeming success, Martin becomes miserable as he is urged to develop practical results for his experiments in order to bring renown and research dollars to the institute. Because of an inability to simultaneously maintain serious personal relationships and a career, at the end he retreats to the New England woods to stay true to his mistress of research, telling his baby son, “Come to me when you grow up, old man” (Lewis, 443). Arrowsmith still speaks to contemporary concerns about how medicine is practiced and paid for. In our current era, when doctors and medical researchers feel as though they are being forced to choose between proper scientific controls and compassion for AIDS sufferers, the problems of Lewis’s Martin Arrowsmith have a significant resonance. His ethical dilemma arises from the conflict between the scientific objectivity required of him by the medical research industry and the real pain and suffering of the sick. This conflict is actualized for him when he and his colleagues are invited to a Caribbean island nation to test an antidote for plague. “He had seen the suffering of the plague and he had (though still he resisted) been tempted to forget experimentation to give up the possible saving of millions for the immediate saving of thousands” (Lewis, 374). But because of his scientific objectivity, he and a dedicated black doctor divide all the inhabitants into two groups: one group will be given an experimental vaccine and the control group will receive nothing. The rational constructions that the scientists have built up between themselves and their feelings are destroyed for Arrow-


smith when his beloved wife, Leora, catches the plague and dies while he is still dividing the population into the saved and the condemned. In response to this emotional and psychological pain, he gives vaccine to all the sick, bringing on the wrath of his colleagues, but receiving the acclaim of the public. Later his medical institute praises him because the sale of the plague vaccine brings them millions in profits. The hypocrisy that Arrowsmith faces causes him to redefine himself in relation to his profession and his feelings. Through Arrowsmith’s problems, Lewis exposes the discourse of the medical profession and the ideology it supports.

SOURCES Hutchisson, James M. The Rise of Sinclair Lewis, 1920–1930. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996. Lewis, Sinclair. Arrowsmith. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. ———. “The Death of Arrowsmith.” Coronet, July 1941. Reprinted in The Man from Main Street: Selected Essays and Other Writings, 1904–1950, edited by Harry E. Maule and Melville H. Cane, 104–107. New York: Random House, 1953. Lingeman, Richard. Sinclair Lewis: Rebel from Main Street. New York: Random House, 2002. Schorer, Mark. Sinclair Lewis: An American Life. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961. Smith, Harrison, ed. From Main Street to Stockholm: Letters of Sinclair Lewis, 1919–1930. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1952. Sally E. Parry

AS I LAY DYING WILLIAM FAULKNER (1930) As I Lay Dying, William FAULKNER’s fifth novel, is the third set in his fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, and the first that identifies Yoknapatawpha County by name. The novel was written immediately after—although published before—SANCTUARY, the sensational “potboiler” Faulkner had written to recoup losses after the commercial failure of the more experimental The SOUND AND THE FURY (1929). As I Lay Dying marks a return to the formal experiments of The Sound and the Fury. Faulkner claimed to have written the novel in six weeks without any revisions. While The Sound and the Fury always remained his favorite among his works, Faulkner said that in As I Lay Dying he deliberately set out to write his masterpiece, and many critics believe he succeeded.

Like The Sound and the Fury and other novels in the Yoknapatawpha cycle, As I Lay Dying explores the dynamic of a particular family, but unlike most of the other Yoknapatawpha novels, it is about neither a family of dissipated Old South aristocrats like the Compsons nor a family of ambitious New South scoundrels like the Snopeses. Instead, the novel focuses on the Bundrens, a poor, white rural family eking out a meager existence in the dwindling Mississippi cotton market. The family consists of Anse, a chronically lazy farmer who appears to have married to create a supply of slave labor; his wife Addie, a strong-willed former schoolteacher; their relentlessly pragmatic oldest son Cash, a skilled carpenter in his late twenties or early thirties; the next oldest son, Darl, whose poetic temperament is perceived by some as madness; Jewel, a boy of 18 who seems both physically distinct and emotionally alienated from the rest of the family; the only daughter Dewey Dell, 16 and secretly pregnant; and Vardaman, still a child. As the novel begins, Addie is on her deathbed, and Cash methodically builds her coffin just beneath her bedroom window. When she dies the Bundrens prepare for a long journey. Anse has promised to bury her with her family in Jefferson, a distance of 40 miles on the back roads of rural Mississippi. On the grueling journey, the Bundrens’ mule-drawn wagon is escorted by buzzards attracted by the stench of the body. A flood washes out a key bridge, and when Anse’s seemingly obsessive drive to fulfill his promise leads him to cross the raging river anyway, the mules drown and Cash’s leg is broken. After trading Jewel’s beloved horse for a new team of mules, the family continues, stopping at various farms overnight, and sleeping in barns. At the Gillespie farm, the barn catches fire during the night, but the journey continues when Addie’s coffin is rescued from the fire, just as it had been rescued from the flood. It gradually becomes clear that each member of the family has an ulterior, selfish motive for wanting to get to Jefferson. Dewey Dell wants to get an abortion before her pregnancy is discovered. Vardaman wants to buy a toy train that he once saw in a store window. Cash, though he sacrifices much for the journey, is also intent on buying a “graphophone” in Jefferson. Anse makes it


clear that he is more interested in buying a set of false teeth in Jefferson than he is in fulfilling any promise. Darl’s motives are perhaps the most difficult to discern, but it is clear that they involve escaping from the family altogether, particularly from Addie’s influence: He purposely tries to lose Addie’s coffin at the bottom of the river, and he is the one who sets fire to Gillespie’s barn in an effort to destroy the coffin. Only Jewel, who is revealed to be the illegitimate product of Addie’s affair with the Reverend Whitfield, appears to be undertaking the trip out of genuine devotion to his mother. Addie herself, it turns out, had her own ulterior motive for making her family undertake the journey. Faulkner reveals that she married so she could produce children who, unlike her pupils, would be entirely her possessions, entirely extensions of her own will. She found, however, that her children were at least as much Anse’s as her own, and were finally as alien to her as he is. She had the affair with Whitfield in a desperate attempt to gain autonomy over some part of her life, and the result was Jewel, who she told her friend Cora Tull “is my cross and—will be my salvation. He will save me from the water and from the fire. Even though I have laid down my life, he will save me” (133). Her words prove prophetic, as Jewel indeed rescues Addie’s coffin from both the overflowing river and the fire in Gillespie’s barn. Her request to be buried in Jefferson, then, is both a declaration of independence from the Bundren family and a last attempt to make her own influence felt beyond the grave. When the Bundrens arrive in Jefferson, however, most of these motives are thwarted. Partly because Anse appropriates all the family’s money, Dewey Dell does not get her abortion and Vardaman does not get his train. Darl’s attempts at escape lead only to a more profound confinement, as the family has him committed to an asylum in Jackson to avoid liability for Gillespie’s barn. Only Anse gets everything he wants: not only his false teeth, but a brand new Mrs. Bundren a well. Cash gets his graphophone and Jewel gets his mother buried, but both ultimately serve the ends of Anse and the newly reconstituted Bundren family. The novel ends with the image of the remaining family members gathered together around the graphophone—Jewel

included, indicating that Addie’s version of life after death has itself proved mortal. What is most original in this story is the radically experimental form in which it is told. The novel is composed of 59 interior monologues, each of which is headed by the name of one of the 15 characters whose thoughts are being transcribed. The style of each monologue reflects both the point of view and the degree of sophistication of its narrator, so that different sections recount different pieces of the narrative and provide conflicting interpretations of characters and events. Critics such as Michael Millgate and Donald M. Kartiganer have agreed that one purpose of such experiments is to demonstrate the degree to which characters’ selfish purposes color their perceptions of reality. But the novel’s form also resembles one of its most prominent recurring images, that of vessels within vessels, or Chinese boxes. The meanings of the surviving Bundrens’ lives are largely contained within Addie’s coffin, which lies at their feet in the wagon, and within her one and only monologue, which unaccountably appears long after the death. The reader must peel back layer upon layer of the Bundrens’ story in order to find its dark emotional heart and the answers to the riddles within Addie’s fierce monologue. Irving Howe has pointed out that the novel’s central theme is the tension between individual self-definition and the contingency of selfhood upon others, particularly parents and family. Nowhere is this more evident than in the pregnant bodies of Addie and Dewey Dell, both of whom conceive of themselves as inhabited by alien presences. This is, of course, the condition Addie rages against in her monologue, rebelling against wifehood and motherhood and repudiating the children who are also Anse’s. Feminist critics have sometimes interpreted this struggle as Addie’s heroic revolt against patriarchy, but Faulkner also seems to be attributing darker and more selfish motives to her. In marrying and bearing children, Addie hopes to extend her personality and will to action even beyond the grave, but she finds that, ironically, she must sacrifice too much of her identity to do so. Darl faces a problem complementary to Addie’s, the difficulty of defining oneself as an individual when one is also the product of a family. Addie is the powerful parental influence Darl resists in


his struggle for autonomy, and this struggle is represented by his constant efforts to thwart the fulfillment of Addie’s wish to be buried in Jefferson. Neither Darl nor Addie, however, gets the last word in the novel. The final monologue belongs to Cash, who has not played much of a role in the family’s emotional struggles. Cash is the only character who seems to have worked out a practical compromise between autonomy and contingency, words and deeds, and these issues increasingly become the themes of his final monologues. While both Addie’s and Darl’s quests for autonomy end in confinement—Addie within a coffin surrounded by her ancestors and Darl imprisoned in a cell in Jackson by his immediate family—only Cash, sitting around the graphophone with his family, seems to have found a way to fulfill his individual ambitions within the context of family life. As in all his Yoknapatawpha novels, the fate of the South also becomes a key theme in As I Lay Dying. Faulkner repeatedly contrasts the poor rural family with the “town folk” of the New South. Cleanth Brooks has observed a heroism in the Bundrens’ quest, and their stubborn endurance. In a somewhat different vein, Myra Jehlen sees the class dynamic in this and other Faulkner novels as an attempt to critique the prevailing myths of the South. While the novel’s conclusion seems tragic, even apocalyptic, many critics have found in this novel signs of Faulkner’s darkly comic sensibility. In an early, important study of Faulkner’s achievement, Olga Vickery explains that the juxtaposition of tragedy and comedy is important to the book’s structure. Harold Bloom discerns in Anse’s triumph an anticipation of the more overt comedy of the Snopes trilogy, which Faulkner would begin a decade later, but for Bloom the dark irony of As I Lay Dying remains Faulkner’s finest achievement.

SOURCES Bloom, Harold, ed. William Faulkner. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography. 2 vols. New York: Random House, 1974. Brooks, Cleanth. William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963. Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. New York: Vintage International, 1990.

Howe, Irving. William Faulkner: A Critical Study. New York: Random House, 1951. Rev. ed., New York: Vintage, 1952. Jehlen, Myra. Class and Character in Faulkner’s South. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976. Kartiganer, Donald M. The Fragile Thread: The Meaning of Form in Faulkner’s Novels. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1979. Millgate, Michael. The Achievement of William Faulkner. New York: Vintage, 1963. Vickery, Olga. The Novels of William Faulkner. 2d ed. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. Bryan Vescio

ASIMOV, ISAAC (1920–1992) Isaac Asimov is considered to be one of the most significant science fiction writers of the 20th century, along with Ray BRADBURY, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert HEINLEIN. Such novels as The Gods Themselves (1972) and Foundation’s Edge (1982), and the stories “Nightfall” and “The Bicentennial Man” have received numerous honors. His most important contribution—defining “robotics” (a word he coined) and writing about robots—began with I, Robot in 1950. There Asimov decreed that robots could never harm humans, must obey humans in almost all ways, and must safeguard themselves whenever possible. Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics influenced both written and filmed science fiction of the 20th century. These laws define robots as subservient to and protective of their human creators. One of the most acclaimed of the Robot series is Robots of Dawn, published decades later (1983). Even more famous are the books in his Foundation series. The first, Foundation, appeared in 1951. Asimov bases his Foundation series on “psychohistory,” a tool used for predicting mass behavior and thus the future of galactic empires. Once the psychohistorical prediction is made, government and scientists together can work to change the predicted outcome. For instance, using psychohistory, the character Seldon can predict the demise of the current empire which will be followed by 30,000 years of anarchy. With this knowledge, he works with the government to try to shorten the 30,000 years to 1,000. The unknown factor, of course, which remains unpredictable, is the independent actions of a given individual who can change history.


Isaac Asimov was born on January 2, 1920, in Petrovichi, in the former Soviet Union, to Judah Asimov, who became a New York City candy-store owner, and Anna Rachel Berman Asimov. They emigrated to the United States in 1923. Isaac Asimov became a naturalized citizen in 1928. Asimov attended Columbia University, where he earned his bachelor of science degree in 1939, his master’s degree in 1941, and his doctoral degree in 1948. After marrying Gertrude Blugerman in 1942, he worked from 1942 to 1945 as a civilian chemist at the United States Navy Air Experimental Station in Philadelphia. When the war ended, he published his award-winning Lucky Starr books for boys. In 1973 Asimov divorced his first wife and married Opal Jeppson, a psychiatrist, that same year. Although his Ph.D. was in biochemistry, he was varied both in his reading and writing; in his later years he wrote about Shakespeare and events in American history. This probably influenced the increasing complexity of his science fiction characters and plot. Some critics point out that he considered fiction to be a tool for introducing ideas, rather than an art form in itself. Asimov died of heart and kidney failure on April 6, 1992; his work, however, remains intriguing to a new generation. In addition to his considerable contributions to science fiction, Asimov published nearly 500 books, including mysteries, short-story collections, and numerous nonfiction books and essays, as well as textbooks in the fields of chemistry, astronomy, and physics.

NOVELS The Alternative Asimovs (contains The End of Eternity). New York: Doubleday, 1986. The Asimov Chronicles. New York: Dell, 1991. Azazel. New York: Doubleday, 1988. The Caves of Steel. New York: Doubleday, 1954. The Currents of Space. New York: Doubleday, 1952. The End of Eternity. New York: Doubleday, 1955. Fantastic Voyage. Boston: Houghton, 1966. Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain. New York: Doubleday, 1987. Foundation. Hicksville, N.Y.: Gnome Press, 1951. Published as The 1,000 Year Plan with No World of Their Own by Paul Anderson. New York: Ace Books, 1955. Foundation and Earth. New York: Doubleday, 1986. Foundation and Empire. Hicksville, N.Y.: Gnome Press, 1952.

The Foundation Trilogy: Three Classics of Science Fiction (contains Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation). New York: Doubleday, 1963. Foundation’s Edge. New York: Doubleday, 1982. The Gods Themselves. New York: Doubleday, 1972. Have You Seen These? Framingham, Mass.: NESFA Press, 1974. Invasions. New York: New American Library, 1990. Isaac Asimov’s I-Bots: History of I-Botics: An Illustrated Novel. New York: HarperPrism, 1997. The Naked Sun. New York: Doubleday, 1957. Nemesis. New York: Doubleday, 1988. Pebble in the Sky. New York: Doubleday, 1950. The Positronic Man (with Robert Silverberg). New York: Doubleday, 1993. Prelude to Foundation. New York: Doubleday, 1988. The Robot Novels (contains The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun). New York: Doubleday, 1957. Robot Visions. New York: New American Library, 1991. Robots and Empire. New York: Doubleday, 1985. The Robots of Dawn. New York: Doubleday, 1983. Second Foundation. Hicksville, N.Y.: Gnome Press, 1953. The Stars, Like Dust. New York: Doubleday, 1951. Published as The Rebellious Stars with an Earth Gone Mad by R. D. Aycock. New York: Ace Books, 1954. The Third Isaac Asimov Double. New York: New English Library/Times Mirror, 1973. Through a Glass Clearly. New York: New English Library, 1967.

SOURCES Asimov, Isaac. In Memory Yet Green: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1920–1954. New York: Doubleday, 1979. ———. In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1954–1979. New York: Doubleday, 1980. Boerst, William J. Isaac Asimov: Writer of the Future. Greensboro, N.C.: Morgan Reynolds, 1998. Fiedler, Jean, and Jim Mele. Isaac Asimov. New York: Ungar, 1982. Greenberg, Martin H., and Joseph D. Olander, eds. Isaac Asimov. New York: Taplinger, 1977. Gunn, James. Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982. Judson, Karen. Isaac Asimov: Master of Science Fiction. Springfield, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 1998. Patrouch, Joseph F., Jr. The Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov. New York: Doubleday, 1974. Platt, Charles. Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction. New York: Berkley Publishing, 1980.


Slusser, George E. Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of His Science Fiction. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1979. Wollheim, Donald A. The Universe Makers. New York: Harper, 1971.

THE ASPERN PAPERS HENRY JAMES (1888) Few writers of fiction have produced a volume of work equal to that of Henry JAMES, and few authors rival James’s literary significance within the canon of the novel. Bridging the two major centuries of the American novel’s existence, as well as fusing significant literary movements in his prose, James remains a seminal figure in the growth and development of American letters. Written in 1888, the short novel The Aspern Papers is an examination of a familiar subject for James, the would-be literary professional. In The Aspern Papers, James creates a protagonist who is an academic scholar himself: an unnamed critic trying to recover the priceless personal letters of the deceased poet Jeffrey Aspern, written to his mistress many years earlier. To the narrator these letters hold an inestimable value, even if their current owner, and the rest of the world, do not seem to recognize their worth. The novel takes place in Venice, where the narrator has found the aged former lover of Aspern, the reclusive Miss Juliana Bordereau. Meeting Miss Bordereau exhilarates the narrator, as he finds himself face to face with “the Juliana of some of Aspern’s most exquisite and most renowned lyrics” (167). The narrator schemes his way into Miss Juliana’s grand but dilapidated house as a lodger and begins to stealthily gain information about the location of the papers from Juliana’s niece, Miss Tita. The niece is not old, but James describes her as “still more helpless [than her aunt], because her inefficiency was spiritual” (173). This fact, coupled with the girl’s prolonged isolation from the world damages the narrator’s conventional plan, “to make love to the niece” (161) as a means of obtaining the desired papers. When his alternate strategy of flowers and flattery meets with delay, the narrator ultimately decides on outright thievery, entering the old woman’s bedchamber by night. The narrator is discovered by the piercing blue eyes of Aspern’s former muse and branded a “publishing scoundrel” (233), just the type of person the old woman has guarded her

treasure from for so many years. The narrator makes a final desperate attempt to procure the documents by agreeing to marry the unattractive Miss Tita, after her aunt’s death, but this plan also fails. He is unable to obtain the ultimate prize and enlarge his reputation as the world’s most prominent Aspern scholar, and he is further humiliated in the process by losing out to such naive and inexperienced women. James was always fond of the foray into the autobiographical with his male protagonists, but in The Aspern Papers he delves even further into this area of self-examination, as the plot revolves around the question of academic publication and scholarship in a world apparently more concerned with financial gain. Susan V. Donaldson asserts that the narrator “sees himself charged with the responsibility of retrieving from the unworthy hands of unknowledgeable and untrained women a treasure that properly belongs in the literary realm” (Donaldson, 3). Even the narrator, however, realizes the monetary value of both the letters and his own literary reputation, as he spends a large sum of lire in his numerous attempts to obtain Aspern’s papers. James, along with others such as William Dean HOWELLS, saw it as their duty in the late 19th century to wrest the mantle of literary publication, particularly in the genre of the novel, away from female writers, who up to that point in America had been highly successful. For both James and Howells, though, these women were amateurs who needed to leave such important matters to men. James’s narrator can often be read as a stand-in for the author, since he is engaging in a strikingly similar project. The narrator’s ultimate failure, however, does not seem to reconcile with James’s success in establishing his own literary reputation. The esoteric nature of the object of desire and the languid pace can make The Aspern Papers seem anything but a “short novel,” but the concluding scenes are memorable. The narrator involuntarily shows his disgust at Miss Tita’s initial suggestion of marriage and departs empty-handed. After thinking it over, though, he realizes that the letters are worth any sacrifice, and he returns with the intention of agreeing to the union out of necessity. Miss Tita in the meantime has had a change of heart as well, and she informs him, “I have


done a great thing. I have destroyed the papers” (250). Then to add to the narrator’s horror, she confesses, “It took a long time—there were so many” (251). At the end of the novel, the narrator reluctantly admits, “When I look at it my chagrin at the loss of the letters becomes almost intolerable” (251).

SOURCES Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Interpretations: Henry James’s “Daisy Miller,” “The Turn of the Screw,” and Other Tales. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. Donaldson, Susan V. Competing Voices: The American Novel 1865–1914. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998. James, Henry. “The Aspern Papers,” “The Turn of the Screw” and Other Short Novels, 153–251. New York: Signet Classic, 1995. Powers, Lyall H. Henry James: An Introduction and Interpretation. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1970. Randy Jasmine


In World of Light, a 1979 documentary featuring May SARTON, the author frankly discusses many pressing concerns: attitudes toward the aged in the United States, being true to oneself, writing as self-realization, passionate relationships between women (sexual or otherwise), and the overarching importance of love. Not surprisingly, many of these themes emerge in her novels, poems, and memoirs. One of her most important novels, As We Are Now (1973), set in a Dickensian nursing home in New Hampshire, touches on all these issues, as well as others important to the writer, such as the comfort provided by animals. The jacket copy of the first edition of As We Are Now calls the book “This short swift blow of a novel.” The narrative is somewhat loosely based on the experience of a male friend, Perley Cole, about whom Sarton wrote several poems and essays. A farmer who worked with a scythe and had an angry and poetic soul, Perley died in an ambulance en route to the hospital. In As We Are Now, the protagonist is Caro Spencer, 76 and never married. After her brother and his younger wife can no longer care for her, Caro is put into a rural nursing facility, Twin Elms Nursing Home, only to discover that she is a prisoner—treated rudely and not able to continue to be herself. She labels the

home “a concentration camp for the old.” Cut off from all that is important to her, she is humiliated at every turn. She even believes they put tranquilizers in the coffee. The only signs of life around the place are some noisy geese and a sweet cat named Pansy. Like Sarton, Caro keeps a journal, which she calls “The Book of the Dead.” She looks at the end of life as a journey and intends to keep notes. She also knows that writing about one’s life is a way of holding on to sanity. “If I can draw it accurately, I shall know where I am,” writes Caro. Sarton looked forward to being old. She had several older mentors. One in particular, the Belgian poet, Jean Dominique, taught her to memorize, love, and write poetry. When she went to England, she was introduced to Elizabeth Bowen, Virginia Woolf, and Julian and Juliette Huxley. Many of her everyday friends and lovers were older; she always respected the life experience and admired the grace and wisdom attained at “a certain age.” In “World of Light,” Sarton admitted that finally, at 67, she is content “not to write a book a year.” She enjoyed the slowed-down pace, knowing herself better. Yet Sarton did continue to produce almost a book a year. At her death in 1995, she had published more than 50 books of prose and poetry. She also had finally acquired enough money to be treated well wherever she ended her days. Not all elderly are so fortunate. In As We Are Now, Caro Spencer, a retired schoolteacher, is decidedly not. Only one person Caro meets during her “incarceration” gives her anything close to affection and kind treatment. Anna Close is an aide who fills in while the owners are away for two weeks. Anna’s and Caro’s friendship is instant and passionate; Caro feels a renewed spark of life when Anna is there. Critic Jane S. Bakerman writes, “One of her [Sarton’s] most brilliant achievements is her ability to picture friendship as a redeeming, sustaining force, and she is one of very few American writers to present a vivid picture of the importance and nourishment of friendships between women.” But the owners, of course, come back, ill tempers and cruelty intact, and Anna, a married woman, cannot take Caro to live at her home. When Caro writes an intense letter of affection to Anna, the owners confiscate it, call her a “queer” and threaten to send her to the state hospital if


she is not a “good” girl. The novel ends brilliantly as Caro takes revenge on those who have abused her and denied her kindness. In a final grand act of heroism, she burns down the Twin Elms Nursing Home. In an afterword, the reader learns that Caro’s much loved journal was found and published, with her brother’s permission, hence this work. As We are Now remains one of Sarton’s best novels, along with Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, A Reckoning, Kinds of Love, The Small Room, and Birth of a Grandfather. Most of her work, including this novella, is still in print. All of Sarton’s novels were passionately written, the way she lived her life, but these particular volumes were perhaps the most brave. Sarton wrote novels to find out where she stood; she tackled issues many writers in the mid- to late-20th century wouldn’t have dared discuss. Sarton’s work has changed many people’s lives. One of her favorite awards was one received for Ministry to Women, awarded by the Unitarian Universalist Society. The novels, As We Are Now and A Reckoning, and After the Stroke, a journal, continue to be used in medical schools and hospice classes.

SOURCES Sarton, May. As We Are Now, 1st ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1973. World of Light, A Portrait of May Sarton. New York: Ishtar Films, 1979. 30-minute documentary film. Bakerman, Jane S. “Patterns of Love and Friendship: Five Novels by May Sarton.” In May Sarton, Woman and Poet, edited by Constance Hunting. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine at Orono, 1982. Deborah Straw

ATHERTON, GERTRUDE (GERTRUDE FRANKLIN HORN ATHERTON) (1857– 1948) Known primarily as a novelist, Gertrude Atherton published 34 novels and seven short fiction collections, as well as books and magazine articles on American history, culture, and nature in the late 19th century. The majority of her novels feature unconventional western women heroes who chafe at the social constrictions inhibiting their freedom. Often compared to novels of Mark TWAIN, Ambrose BIERCE and Bret HARTE, Atherton’s California novels, including The Californians (1898), Ancestors (1907), and Perch of the

Devil (1914), examine the issues surrounding romance and matrimony. Of particular interest are The Doomswoman (1893) and A Daughter of the Vine (1899), where, for instance, the hero, Diego Estenega, realizes that both California’s Mexican culture and the Mexicans themselves seem doomed to marginalization. Atherton is also credited with inventing the idea of a novel, based on biography, that blends reality and romance; The Conqueror, for instance, features Alexander Hamilton. Atherton’s fiction as a whole invites comparisons with that of Willa CATHER, Ellen GLASGOW, Mary Wilkins FREEMAN, and Edith WHARTON. Atherton was born on October 30, 1857, to Thomas Ludovich Horn and Gertrude Franklin, in San Francisco, California. Unusual for her era, Atherton’s mother divorced two husbands, including Horn, and Atherton herself, who married George Henry Bowen Atherton, lived apart from him for several years before his death. According to scholar and biographer Charlotte S. McClure, Atherton became a novelist to lessen her financial dependence on her husband. She replicates this desire for independence in her fiction. In Patience Sparhawk (1897), for instance, Patience ultimately leaves her socially elite husband because she cannot find happiness in this milieu. In BLACK OXEN (1923), Atherton’s best-selling novel, the Countess Zattiany, although an admirable and vital figure, understands that society discriminates against its beautiful but aging women. Atherton’s place in American literature is significant. In addition to her substantial body of work, Atherton was employed for a time in Hollywood by the Eminent Authors program, and in 1940 was the first to be named one of California’s Most Distinguished Woman. After a lifetime of travel and residence in both Europe and the United States, and a 50-year career, Atherton spent her last 16 years in San Francisco, where she died on June 15, 1948.

SELECTED NOVELS Adventures of a Novelist. New York: Liveright, 1932. American Wives and English Husbands, A Novel. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1898. Ancestors. New York and London: Harper, 1907. Black Oxen. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1923. The Californians. London: Lane, 1898. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1898.


Can Women Be Gentlemen?. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1938. The Conqueror, Being the True and Romantic Story of Alexander Hamilton. New York and London: Macmillan, 1902. A Daughter of the Vine. New York and London: Lane/Bodley Head, 1899. Dido, Queen of Hearts. New York: Liveright, 1929. The Doomswoman. New York: Tait, 1893. Heart of Hyacinth. New York: Harper, 1903. His Fortunate Grace. New York: Appleton, 1897. The Horn of Life. New York: Appleton-Century, 1942. The House of Lee. New York and London: Appleton-Century, 1940. The Immortal Marriage. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1927. New York: Macmillan, 1912. The Jealous Gods, A Processional Novel of the Fifth Century B.C. Concerning One Alcibiades. New York: Liveright, 1928. The Living Present. New York: Stokes, 1917. Los Cerritos, A Romance of the Modern Time. New York: Lovell, 1890. Mrs. Balfame, A Novel. New York: Stokes, 1916. Mrs. Pendleton’s Four-in-Hand. New York and London: Macmillan, 1903. Patience Sparhawk and Her Times, A Novel. London and New York: Lane, 1897. Perch of the Devil. New York: Stokes, 1914. A Question of Time. New York: Lovell, 1891. Rezánov. New York and London: Authors and Newspapers Association, 1906. Rezánov and Doa Concha. New York: Stokes, 1937. Rulers of Kings, A Novel. New York and London: Harper, 1904. Senator North. New York and London: Lane/Bodley Head, 1900. The Sophisticates. New York: Liveright, 1931. Tower of Ivory, A Novel. New York: Macmillan, 1910. Vengeful Gods. Life in the War Zone. New York: Systems Printing Company, 1916. The White Morning, A Novel of the Power of the German Women in Wartime. New York: Stokes, 1918.

SOURCES Atherton, Gertrude. My San Francisco, A Wayward Biography. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs-Merrill, 1946. ———. California, An Intimate History. New York and London: Harper, 1914. Cucinella, Catherine. “Gertrude Atherton.” In American Women Writers, 1900–1945: Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Laurie Champion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Leider, Emily Wortis. California’s Daughter: Gertrude Atherton and Her Times. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1991. McClure, Charlotte S. “A Checklist of the Writing of and about Gertrude Atherton,” American Literary Realism, 1870–1910 9 (1976): 103–162. ———. Gertrude Atherton. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 1976. ———. Gertrude Atherton. Boston: Twayne, 1979. Starr, Kevin. “Gertrude Atherton, Daughter of the Elite.” In Americans and the California Dream, 1850–1915, 345–364. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.


Who is John Galt? This question opens Ayn RAND’s acclaimed novel, Atlas Shrugged. At first just a joke, this query begins a serious investigation on the part of protagonist Dagny Taggart to discover the identity of this man. She discovers Galt’s motor, a motor that would have revolutionized the power industry; however, the motor is left in a factory, unfinished. The motor spurs a quest because Dagny cannot fathom leaving such a monumental invention to rust in an empty factory. Through her own struggles to keep Taggart Transcontinental, her business, operating, she discovers what John Galt has already learned: To deprive a person of the products of his mind is theft. During the novel, Dagny strives to safeguard her business from the monopolizing regulations the government imposes. She lives in a world in which the majority of people want the community to succeed instead of the individual. The conformists are ashamed they do not think; that is, they believe thought is dead, and it no longer exists. Since all ideas have already been thought, they believe no one should claim sole ownership of what she believes to be her own thoughts. In Ayn Rand’s For the New Intellectual, guilt and fear over not thinking destroy both the consciousness of the “non-thinkers” and the capitalistic culture—socialism arises as a protector against reality and insists that a person’s work belongs to society because no person has the right to live for herself (47–49). Rather than force their minds to work, the non-thinkers demolish the institution that requires them to do so. Hiding behind a state that makes people equal, the non-thinkers hope they will not appear cognitively inadequate. Their commu-


nistic mentality is apparent in the anti-dog-eat-dog rule, which eliminates competition and creates monopolies: “The Rule provided that the members of the National Alliance of Railroads were forbidden to engage in practices defined as ‘destructive competition’ ” (76). So, the most efficient railroad is not permitted to operate. Only the one with seniority is allowed to function. Once Dagny realizes she can no longer allow the government to control her, she breaks with the world by uttering the mantra of John Galt, which she hears him speak on the radio: “I swear—by my life and by my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine” (1,047). Unable to work under the communist ideals of the Washington men, she learns that she cannot continue to sacrifice herself for a society that not only takes all she has invented but also gives her nothing in return. Nothing she does is ever enough, and no one thanks her for solving Taggart Transcontinental’s problems and keeping the trains on schedule. Just as a child cannot rely upon its parents forever, the world cannot depend on Dagny for its survival: “Man’s mind is the basic tool for survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not. To remain alive, he must act, and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food without knowledge of food and of the way to obtain it. He cannot dig a ditch— or build a cyclotron—without a knowledge of his aim and of the means to achieve it. To remain alive, he must think.” (930) Propelling the world, the individual acts as a god to society. Without that special person who decides to change a chemical formula or test a hypothesis, there would be no growth. If the caveman never discovered fire, humans would still reside in the cave. Dagny learns that her mind is her most valuable weapon, and without her mind, she would be reduced to an animal, little more than a hair-covered, instinct-following beast. Stripped of her mind, she too will perish. After Dagny breaks her ties with the non-thinkers, she feels relieved. Freed from the restricting mentality

these men imposed, the world opens itself to new ideas, ideas with which to help humanity, not with which to hinder its development. “She knew what Nat Taggart [her grandfather] had felt at his start and that now, for the first time, she was following him in full loyalty: the confident sense of facing a void and of knowing that one has a continent to build” (1,065). Although her railroad is ravaged by men who do not know how to operate it, Dagny no longer expresses anger. Unobstructed by the men who formerly stood in her way, she can invent new creations exempt from the fear they will be usurped. Those who recently held authority have no power because Dagny, with a productive mind, will refuse to concede to their dictates. Without the inhibitions of thoughtless individuals, Dagny can exert all her mental power, not in dealing with those who want to restrain her achievements, but in soaring to even greater intellectual heights than she ever before thought possible.

SOURCES Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Signet, 1957. ———. For the New Intellectual. New York: Random House, 1961. Erin Moore

AT PLAY IN THE FIELDS OF THE LORD PETER MATTHIESSEN (1965) Set near the source of the Amazon River in the Peruvian Andes, MATTHIESSEN’s novel begins in the last outpost of civilization, a ramshackle mission town. Here, the missionaries Leslie and Andy Huben meet the newly arrived missionaries Martin and Hazel Quarrier and their son Billy. The other major characters are introduced as counterpoints to each other: Padre Xantes, the Catholic prefect, and Commandante Guzman represent the local authorities, and Wolfie and Merriwether Lewis Moon represent the many transients who come to the Amazon to dissipate themselves or to disappear. Moon is the novel’s protagonist. Part Cheyenne, part Choctaw, and part African-American, he is the only adult non-native to have some genuine interest in and empathy for the culture of the local tribe, the Niaruna. The tribe has been much reduced by exposure to Western diseases against which they have had no immunity.


In the aftermath of this cultural catastrophe, some of the remaining Niaruna have lost some of their resistance to Christianity and have become nominal converts. But the case of one of these converts, whose given name is Uyuyu but who is called Yoyo—with unintended irony—by the missionaries, demonstrates that what might appear to be a workable compromise between the two cultures is only an arbitrary mixture of their most superficial aspects, with no sustaining core of meaning. To further exacerbate the Niaruna’s predicament, they get caught in the middle of denominational conflicts among the missionaries. Moreover, these conflicts are themselves exacerbated by the missionaries’, and especially Hazel Quarrier’s, inability to adjust to the natural environment of the rain forest. In fact, they are so clearly as much out of their element as the Niaruna are in their element that their efforts to convert the Niaruna to a new way of life quickly begin to seem stubbornly and even preposterously wrong-headed. Ultimately, the missionaries are more interested in demonstrating the power of their own religious convictions than in meeting the needs, spiritual or otherwise, of the Niaruna. All of these tensions come to a head when Martin Quarrier is savagely killed by Uyuyu. The Europeans interpret Quarrier’s death as a martyrdom, but it is actually just a further demonstration of his incompetence as a missionary. In retaliation for the killing, Guzman hires Moon to fly a plane over the forest and drop some bombs on a native village. Instead Moon parachutes from the plane, leaving it to crash into the trackless forest. Misinterpreting his fall from the sky, the local Niaruna treat him as a god. At first he feels as though he has recovered something of what his ancestors had lost in North America. But eventually he recognizes that he can never recover the Niaruna’s contented obliviousness to the broader world nor be completely at ease with their equal capacities for great generosity and terrible savagery. Fleeing ahead of Guzman’s pursuit, Moon travels downriver in a malarial, hallucinatory quest for some sustaining spiritual truth. And, at least for a moment, as a solitary soul “lost” in a vast wilderness, he seems to achieve it. Even including novels in the action-adventure genre, At Play in the Fields of the Lord is one of the rela-

tively few American novels to be set in the Amazon basin. Some critics have complained about Matthiessen’s radical bias against Western culture and, in particular, about his very negative characterization of Christian missionaries, a characterization that seems to ignore completely the hardships that missionaries have endured and the good that they have done in many regions of the world. Yet, despite its exotic setting and the perception of a rather heavy-handed radical bias, the novel explores many traditional American themes: the notion of the frontier as a defining and transforming phenomenon— specifically, the paradoxical American notion that escape into the wilderness can represent a search for one’s defining “place” in the world; the tensions between the primitive and the civilized, the innocent and the corrupt; the narrow boundaries between righteousness and self-righteousness and between self-exploration and self-indulgence; the dangers to the self posed by both community and isolation; and the initiation of the American abroad, although in most instances this has involved an American’s immersion into a more civilized, rather than more primitive, environment. Matthiessen, of course, challenges the conventional Western assumptions about civilization and progress. His novel belongs to that tradition of Western novels questioning the efficacy and morality of colonialism, a tradition including such novelists as Joseph Conrad, Joyce Cary, and Graham Greene. But while many postcolonial critics have complained about the negative stereotyping of “natives” even in the work of Western critics of colonialism, Matthiessen seems to have transcended that underlying bias. The influence of Matthiessen’s novel can be seen in such subsequent, noteworthy novels as Robert Stone’s A Flag for Sunrise and Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast. Moreover, the adaptation of the novel to film by director Hector Babenco (Saul Zaentz/MCA Universal, 1991), after a quarter-century of false starts chronicled in C. Brown’s Esquire article, gave the novel something of a second life.

SOURCES Brown, C. “At Play in the Fields of Hollywood.” Esquire, July 1991, pp. 110–118.


Caesar, Terry. “ ‘So That’s the Flag’: The Representation of Brazil and the Politics of Nation in American Literature,” Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts 41 (Summer 1999): 365–384. Cooley, John. “Matthiessen’s Voyages on the River Styx: Deathly Waters, Endangered Peoples.” In Earthly Words: Essays on Contemporary American Nature and Environmental Writers, edited by John Cooley, 167–192. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994. Escorel, L. “At Play in the Fields of the Lord: Confronting the Mythic—and the Not So Mythic.” Omni (December 1991): 10. Matthiessen, Peter. At Play in the Fields of the Lord. New York: Random House, 1965. Patteson, Richard F. “At Play in the Fields of the Lord: The Imperialist Idea and the Discovery of Self,” Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction 21, no. 2 (1979): 5–14. Rendleman, Todd. “ ‘Evil’ Images in At Play in the Fields of the Lord: Evangelicals and Representations of Sexuality in Contemporary Film,” Velvet Light Trap 46 (Fall 2000): 26–39. Martin Kich

AT WEDDINGS AND WAKES ALICE MCDERMOTT (1992) Alice McDermott’s third novel, At Weddings and Wakes is set in the early 1960s, soon after the assassination of President Kennedy. It is the story of the four Irish Catholic Towne sisters and their complicated relationship with their “Momma,” as seen through the eyes of one sister’s three children. Twice a week, in every week of the summer (except for the last week of July and the first week of August), Lucy takes her children (who are unnamed, until late in the novel) from their suburban Long Island home back to the family apartment in Brooklyn where the sisters and “Momma” live, mother and daughters in a figurative if not literal sense. The daughters are actually Momma’s nieces, for “Momma,” an Irish immigrant, married their father in a “marriage of convenience” immediately after her sister, their real mother, died in childbirth. Then, the girls’ father died suddenly, of an aneurism. If not for “Momma,” who was widowed when she was pregnant with John, her only child, the girls would have been orphans, wards of the state. Out of a sense of obligation to her beloved sister, and because it had taken eight years of hard work in Ireland to get to

America in the first place, Momma married a man she hadn’t chosen, nor particularly loved. When he died, she became a single parent to five children, four of whom she hadn’t borne, and the children were raised in the Brooklyn apartment where their mother had died in the bedroom, and their father on the landing right outside the front door. Nothing, it seems, can tear “Momma” and the women out of the Brooklyn apartment, though Bob, Lucy’s husband, tries: for the last week of July and the first week of August, Bob takes Lucy and their three children for a vacation, alternating cottages year after year to keep his family from becoming, like their mother, overly attached to any one place. John early on made his escape—but the girls never do. John is her natural child but the girls owe Momma too much. The only way they can try to repay her is to live depressed, unhappy, resentful lives of their own. It would be disloyal to Momma to be happy. “Lucy’s children (Margaret, Bobby, Maryann) sit at the windowsill in Momma’s bedroom and listen to their mother in the livingroom, complaining in a stifled and frustrated tone she used only here” (18) that their father “is not the man I married” (25). Agnes is the pretentious “career woman” who sets herself up as an authority on most everything, and is resentful that she has no husband, and has to make her own way in the world. Then there is Veronica, her skin ruined by a medical mistake, who turned out to be most aptly named by her dead mother for the biblical Veronica, who “had offered (her) veil without hesitation to comfort the face of our suffering Lord” (90). Like her half-brother, the ne’er-do-well adult John, Veronica is an alcoholic, and hides her suffering not only in the bottle, but in the gloom of her dark bedroom. Though “what about me?” is the question that Lucy, Agnes, and Veronica continually ask, May never does. It is May who left the convent because she thought she’d become complacent, May who has come home to care for Momma, May who is determined to forget their tragic history (“all that is past” [107] is her reply to her sisters’ laments) and be as happy as possible. And it is May, to Momma’s and the other girls’ great annoyance and jealousy, who unexpectedly, and so late in life, falls in love with Fred, the mailman, an Irish bachelor who’s just lost his own


mother, and is quite alone in the world. May wonders if “God was not sometimes as foolish, as childish, in His love for us, as we are when we first discover our love for one another” (70). It’s May’s wedding to Fred that is at the heart of the novel. For a brief time, the children see that “Momma” and their aunts, and even their mysterious Uncle John, whom they usually see only in the Brooklyn apartment at Christmas, are happy in each other’s company. And it amazes Lucy’s children that Uncle John has a wife and children too, cousins that Lucy’s brood has never met. It is as if in getting out of that apartment, the whole family has been given a new opportunity to get to know each other. But it hardly lasts for, four days after May and Fred’s wonderful wedding, May dies—of an aneurism. The happy family, dancing at the wedding, came together once again, at May’s wake. It would be nice to think that May’s sudden death made the children realize the futility of rehashing the past, that they’d appreciate May’s wisdom in enjoying every minute of the life that was lent to her, that they’d reject the notion of their family as cursed. Nice—but doubtful.

SOURCES McDermott, Alice. At Weddings And Wakes. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992. Christine O’Hagan

AUCHINCLOSS, LOUIS (STANTON) (1917– ) Known throughout his prolific writing career (nearly 30 novels and over 100 short stories) as an heir to Edith WHARTON and Henry JAMES, Auchincloss has also taken as his subject the privileged men and women of New York society. He is particularly noted for his fine craftsmanship and psychologically penetrating insights into male and female characters who face personal dilemmas and crises as do we all. Auchincloss’s characters, however, often harbor a sense of inferiority or insecurity, despite their apparent wealth and privilege. Under close Auchinclossian scrutiny are the conflicts between marriage and sex, particularly those generated by the demands of a socially elite but closed society; institutions—banking, the law, education—also come under the lens of the author, as does the institution of

the family, often examined through one family’s history over several generations. Auchincloss’s abundant publication record is all the more notable since for most of his adult life, he has practiced law full time in a New York firm, while still writing novels and stories, as well as biographies, literary criticism, essays, and plays. His legal specialties include trusts, estates, marriages and divorces, providing abundant material for the business and social ventures that featured in his works. His interest in New York society comes naturally to Auchincloss, who was born September 27, 1917, in Lawrence, Long Island, New York, to Joseph Howland Auchincloss, a corporate lawyer, and Priscilla Stanton Auchincloss. He attended Yale University from 1935 to 1939, but when his first novel was rejected by Scribner, he left Yale without graduating and entered the University of Virginia Law School, earning his LL.B. in 1941. When the United States entered World War II, Auchincloss joined the U.S. Navy, serving as a gunnery officer and a naval intelligence officer, from 1941 until 1945. He spent much of his spare time reading, but his tours of duty in the Canal Zone, England, and the Pacific theater provided material for his subsequent satiric treatments of military bureaucracy in The Indifferent Children (1947), Venus in Sparta (1958), and numerous short stories collected in The Romantic Egoists (1954) (Parsell, 14). After the war, Auchincloss continued to agonize over whether to commit himself to a career in writing or the law. Using the pseudonym Andrew Lee, he published his first novel, The Indifferent Children, a tale of a returning World War II soldier, before beginning work with a Wall Street law firm. Two subsequent novels, Sybil (1952) and A Law for the Lion (1953), concern dissatisfied upper-class New York women in search of self-fulfillment and a sense of identity. After taking a two-year break to devote himself to writing and to sessions in psychotherapy—valuable to himself and to the complex depiction of characters in his later fiction—Auchincloss decided that he could manage his double careers and was hired by another law firm, becoming a full partner in 1958. In 1957, Auchincloss married Adele Simpson, a Rockefeller descendant. Three of his early novels were well received: The Great


World and Timothy Colt (1956), Venus in Sparta (1958), and Pursuit of the Prodigal (1959). Timothy Colt, a lawyer, rebels against social expectations and must face punishment for professional misconduct. In Venus in Sparta, Michael Farish rebels against both the banking profession and his marriage, fleeing to Mexico before finally committing suicide. Rees Parmalee, the lawyer protagonist in Pursuit of the Prodigal, vainly rebels against the upper-class social forces that have produced him. Despite their critical and popular success, scholar and critic David B. Parsell says that these novels do not have the “stamp of greatness or near-greatness that would mark the author’s major efforts of the 1960s” (Parsell, 17). Portrait in Brownstone (1962), an early multigenerational novel considered one of Auchincloss’s finest achievements, traces the Denison family through a period of 50 years, recounting the emergence of Ida Denison Trask as the major force in the gradually disintegrating family. The RECTOR OF JUSTIN (1964), almost universally hailed as Auchincloss’s masterpiece, focuses on Francis Prescott, recently deceased headmaster of Justin Martyr Academy, an elite New England boys’ boarding school. Using the technique of multiple unreliable narrators, Auchincloss demonstrates the impossibility of knowing the truth about any character. Similarly, he creates three points of view about one crime in The Embezzler (1966), and in such later novels as The Book Class (1984), when parts of the deceased founder’s life are revealed through the multiple perspectives of the book club members and filtered through the dead woman’s son’s narration. Auchincloss’s prolific literary talents continue to manifest themselves in such relatively recent novels as The Lady of Situations (1990), The Education of Oscar Fairfax (1995), and Her Infinite Variety (2000). Indeed, it is this abundance of work (including historical, biographical, and critical studies of such subjects as the Gilded Age, Edith Wharton, Ellen GLASGOW, and Henry James) that tends to divide critics, some of whom find fault with any writer who publishes so much. The question is in fact whether Auchincloss focuses too narrowly on one upper-class segment of American society, or whether, by so focusing, he pres-

ents us with some of the most searingly accurate portraits of the human psyche in the United States during the 20th and 21st centuries.

NOVELS The Book Class. Boston: Houghton, 1984. The Cat and the King. Boston: Houghton, 1981. The Country Cousin. Boston: Houghton, 1978. The Dark Lady. Boston: Houghton, 1977. Diary of a Yuppie. Boston: Houghton, 1987. The Education of Oscar Fairfax. Boston: Houghton, 1995. The Embezzler. Boston: Houghton, 1966. Exit Lady Masham. Boston: Houghton, 1983. Fellow Passengers: A Novel in Portraits. Boston: Houghton, 1989. The Golden Calves. Boston: Houghton, 1988. The Great World and Timothy Colt. Boston: Houghton, 1956. Her Infinite Variety. Boston: Houghton, 2000. Honourable Men. Boston: Houghton, 1986. The House of Five Talents. Boston: Houghton, 1960. The House of the Prophet. Boston: Houghton, 1980; New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1991. I Come as a Thief. Boston: Houghton, 1972. The Indifferent Children. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1947. The Lady of Situations. Boston: Houghton, 1990. A Law for the Lion. Boston: Houghton, 1953. Portrait in Brownstone. Boston: Houghton, 1962. Pursuit of the Prodigal. Boston: Houghton, 1959. The Rector of Justin. Boston: Houghton, 1964. Sybil. Boston: Houghton, 1952. Three Lives. Boston: Houghton, 1993. Venus in Sparta. Boston: Houghton, 1958. Watchfires. Boston: Houghton, 1982. A World of Profit (Under pseudonym Andrew Lee). Boston: Houghton, 1968. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1947.

SOURCES Eisinger, Chester E., and Sandra Ray. “Louis Auchincloss: Overview.” In Contemporary Novelists, 6th ed., edited by Susan Windisch Brown. Detroit, Mich.: St. James Press, 1996. Milne, Gordon. “Louis Auchincloss.” In The Sense of Society: A History of the American Novel of Manners, 235–253. London: Associated University Presses, 1977. Parsell, David B. Louis Auchincloss. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988. Plimpton, George. “Louis Auchincloss: The Art of Fiction,” Paris Review 36, no. 132 (Fall 1994): 73–94.


OTHER Wired for Books. Audio Interview with Louis Auchincloss. Don Swain. Available online. URL: http://wiredforbooks. org/louisauchincloss/. Accessed August 25, 2005.

AUSTER, PAUL (1947– )

Paul Auster is one of the most respected experimental novelists to emerge in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He moved into the critical limelight with The City of Glass (1985), the first novel in his NEW YORK TRILOGY; the other two novels, Ghosts and The Locked Room, appeared in 1986 and 1987. In 1987 he also published In the Country of Last Things, an unusual science fiction novel that focuses on the here and now rather than the future. To date, Auster has published 11 novels, including The MUSIC OF CHANCE, nominated for a PEN Faulkner award. Paul Auster was born on February 3, 1947, in Newark, New Jersey, to Samuel Auster and Queenie Bogat Auster; he grew up in Newark and was educated at Columbia University, earning bachelor’s (1969) and master’s (1970) degrees. He married Lydia Davis in 1974; they were divorced in 1979. In 1981, he married Minnesota-born novelist Siri Husvedt. Although he began his writing career as a poet and essayist, his reputation changed with the publication of City of Glass, outwardly a mystery novel. His character, Quinn, who writes books and works as a detective, begins to work on a case that becomes a postmodern quest into madness, language, identity, fact and fiction. The linguist character is, ironically, named Stillman, and a man named Auster is the actual detective. The quest continues in Ghost, but here Auster uses a protagonist detective called Blue who is hired by a client named White to follow Black, a writer. The reader feels that Black and Blue are one and the same. The Locked Room, the Trilogy’s highly acclaimed third novel, features the obviously Hawthornesque dead writer Fanshawe, whose identity is appropriated by the narrator who marries Fanshawe’s wife and publishes his books. In the Country of Lost Things (1987) borrows from science fiction, but as most critics note, the novel is set firmly in the present, as Anna Blume confronts the amoral and cultural chaos of the 20th century. Similarly, in The Music of Chance, the protagonist, Jim Nash, is imprisoned in a rural rather than an urban environ-

ment by the gamblers to whom he has sold his soul. Moon Palace (1989), a favorite of book clubs, features the orphaned Fogg, who seeks clues to his identity by examining his past, while in Mr. Vertigo (1994), the young Walter Rawley learns to levitate on a Kansas farm while lusting after a career on Broadway. Leviathan (1992) opens with the bizarre death of New York writer Benjamin Sachs; writer Peter Aaron attempts to unravel the mysteries involved in Sachs’s life and death. The Music of Chance was adapted into the 1993 film of the same title, directed by Philip Haas and starring James Spader and Mandy Patinkin, and, in 1994, Miramax bought the film rights to Mr. Vertigo. In 1994 both Smoke and Blue in the Face were filmed: Smoke starred Harvey Keitel and William Hurt and was directed by Wayne Wang; and Blue in the Face, directed by Wang and Auster, starred Keitel, Michael J. Fox, Madonna, Lou Reed, and Roseanne Barr. That same year, City of Glass was adapted into a comic book by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli. Paul Auster also wrote the award-winning screenplay Smoke. He and his wife continue to live in Brooklyn, New York.

NOVELS City of Glass. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sun & Moon Press, 1985. Double Game. New York: Violette, 2000. Facing the Music. London: Station Hill, 1980. Ghosts. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sun & Moon Press, 1986. In the Country of Last Things. New York: Viking, 1987. Leviathan. New York: Viking, 1992. The Locked Room. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sun & Moon Press, 1987. Moon Palace. New York: Viking, 1989. Mr. Vertigo. New York: Viking, 1994. The Music of Chance. New York: Viking, 1990. Timbuktu. New York: Holt, 1999.

SOURCES Barone, Dennis, ed. Beyond the Red Notebook: Essays on Paul Auster. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995. Handler, Nina. Drawn into the Circle of Its Repetitions: Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy. Edited by Dal Salwak. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1996. Holzapfel, Anne M. The New York Trilogy: Whodunit?: Tracking the Structure of Paul Auster’s Anti-Detective Novels. New York: Peter Lang, 1996.


AUSTIN, MARY HUNTER (1868–1934) Scholars in the 21st century have reawakened interest in Mary Hunter Austin after a half century of obscurity. Austin, known especially as a feminist and nature writer, wrote nine novels and a novella, and numerous stories, sketches, poetry, and plays. She is particularly remembered as an author who loved the land and respected Native Americans, especially those in the land of “little rain,” parts of California and Nevada, home to the Northern Paiute, Shoshone, Interior Chumash, and Yokut peoples. The author of several feminist novels, Austin is remembered particularly for the avant garde novel, A WOMAN OF GENIUS (1912). Friend and colleague of numerous writers of her time, including Willa CATHER, Charlotte Perkins GILMAN, Jack LONDON, Lincoln Steffens, and Mabel Dodge LUHAN, Austin is finally establishing her place in American literature of the early 20th century. Austin was born in Carlinville, Illinois, on September 9, 1868, to George Hunter, an English lawyer, and Susanna Savilla Graham Hunter, whose teaching career ended with Mary’s birth. She graduated from Blackburn College in 1888 and moved to California with her mother. Married in 1891 to Stafford Wallace Austin, an unsuccessful engineer and teacher with whom she quickly became disillusioned, and pregnant within a year, Austin began to write as a way to support the couple’s retarded daughter. The precarious relationships between women and men would become one of Austin’s major novelistic themes. In Isidro (1905), for instance, and later in Santa Lucia (1908) and The Lovely Lady (1913), Austin writes about marriages without any romantic trappings. Similarly Love and the Soul Maker (1914) and No. 26 Jayne Street (1920), both set in New York, depict women who recognize that their lovers are hypocrites; the novella Cactus Thorn (1988), written in 1927 but unpublished in her lifetime, features a woman who learns of her lover’s deception. She kills him. Austin separated from her husband in 1899, dividing her time between California and New York City and divorced him in 1914. After a nervous breakdown in 1923, she settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she became an advocate for Native American and Hispanic art and culture.

Although most critics agree that A Woman of Genius is Austin’s best novel, her place in early 20th-century literature may depend on Starry Adventure (1931), set in New Mexico and presenting a reformed sort of man who eventually chooses to marry a woman of intellect, and The Land of Little Rain (1903), which some critics believe to be the impetus for a new southwestern regional literature. Shortly after completing her autobiography, Earth Horizons, Mary Hunter Austin died on August 13, 1934, of a heart attack.

NOVELS AND NOVELLA Cactus Thorn. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1988. The Ford. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1917. Isidro. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1905. Love and the Soul Maker. New York: Appleton, 1914. The Lovely Lady. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Page, 1913. No. 26 Jayne Street. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920. Outland. [George Stairs, pseud.] London: Murray, 1910; [as Mary Austin] New York: Boni & Liveright, 1919. Santa Lucia: A Common Story. New York: Harper, 1908. Starry Adventure. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1931. Contributor. The Study Oak: A Composite Novel by Fourteen American Authors. Edited by Elizabeth Jordan. New York: Holt, 1917. A Woman of Genius. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Page, 1912.

SOURCES Austin, Mary. Earth Horizon: An Autobiography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1932. ———. Literary America 1903–1934: The Mary Austin Letters. Edited by T. M. Pearce. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979. Graulich, Melody, and Elizabeth Klingasmith, eds. Exploring Lost Borders: Critical Essays on Mary Austin. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1999. Hoyer, Mark T. Dancing Ghosts: Native American and Christian Syncretism in Mary Austin’s Work. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1998. O’Grady, John P. Pilgrims to the Wild: Everett Ruess, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Clarence King, Mary Austin. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993. Pearce, T. M. Mary Hunter Austin. Boston: Twayne Publishing, 1956. Stineman, Esther Lanigan. Mary Austin: Song of a Maverick. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989. Wright, Elizabeth. “Mary Hunter Austin.” In American Women Writers, 1900–1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical


Sourcebook, edited by Laurie Champion, 12–19. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALICE B. TOKLAS, THE GERTRUDE STEIN (1933) The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas is not an autobiography and not by Alice B. Toklas. Rather, it is a fictional text written by Gertrude STEIN and populated by colorful characters that happen to share the names of real people, such as Alice Toklas, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest HEMINGWAY (Rabin, 105). Its status as an American novel has been debated because of presumed categorical mutual exclusivity: novel (fiction) versus autobiography (nonfiction). Additionally the text is set in Paris and its author had not lived in America (or even visited) in the 30 years prior to its publication. And yet the Autobiography made Stein immensely popular among American readers, and it also holds an important place in the development of the modernist novel. It is a brilliant experiment in which Stein takes on the narrative voice of her beloved in order to occupy the discursive space of self and other simultaneously, exploring timelessly relevant questions about relationships, reality, identity, self-knowledge, and communication. Covering the period between 1903 and 1932, the Autobiography adopts “Alice’s” chatty voice to describe the travels, social milieu, and artistic development of Gertrude Stein, in the context of Stein and Toklas’s long-term domestic partnership. The text reads like a virtual Who’s Who of the literary and artistic expatriate scene in Paris’s Left Bank (including Ernest Hemingway, Carl Van Vechten, and Mabel Dodge) and the international artistic scene (for example, Picasso, Matisse, Juan Gris). From a literary perspective, perhaps the most important aspect of the text is its relationship to and portrayal of time: The chronological overlay of chapter divisions is coupled with cyclical organization within each section. Such internal structuring devices include dinner parties, European travels, and social configurations, particularly the comings and goings of artists’ wives and mistresses. The text divides nearly everyone into geniuses and wives, with Stein an exemplar of the former and Alice of the latter. These devices create a “circular pattern

of meaning” (Abraham, 96) that both complements and subverts the expected chronology. Even the chapter divisions themselves are neither consistently divided nor strictly chronological: “Before I Came to Paris,” “My Arrival in Paris,” “Gertrude Stein in Paris, 1903–1907,” “Gertrude Stein Before She Came to Paris,” “1907–1914,” “The War,” and “After the War, 1919–1932.” Although some argue that the text is more properly characterized as a narrative or a story as opposed to a novel (Abraham, 108; Rabin, 109), the Autobiography defies simple categorization. In contrast to the expectations set up by the title, namely that the text will be “a biography written by the subject about himself or herself [ . . . and focusing] on the author’s developing self,” the Autobiography seems more like a memoir, a text “in which the emphasis is not on the author’s developing self but on the people and events that the author has known or witnessed” (Abrams, 15). And yet it is fictional in content (and includes events that neither happened to “Alice” nor were witnessed by her), literary in form, and philosophical in purpose. Stein’s writing style—expansive, repetitive, and filled with run-on sentences—clearly displays the novelist’s willingness to abandon the “linguistic decorum” of earlier literature in favor of compelling content (Watt, 29). Stein’s text also conforms to other criteria of novels: It offers realistic portrayals of plausible characters representing a range of experiences, focuses on an individual’s subjectivity, and rejects conventional plots (Watt, 10, 13, 32). Hence “Alice’s” avowal that Stein prefers to concentrate on everyday situations fits nicely with the defining focus of the genre: “she always says she dislikes the abnormal, it is so obvious. She says the normal is so much more simply complicated and interesting” (83). Further, and in true modernist form, Stein takes the mimetic aspect of novels to the highest possible degree. Instead of merely presenting a correspondence between art and life, the Autobiography provides an intimate glimpse into the life of art(ists). Pushing the boundaries of autobiography and memoir, the Autobiography claims its novelistic birthright: “[literary] imperialism . . . [the] ability to take over features from other species and assimilate them into a new form” (Hunter, 58). In constituting a new variety of


modernist novel, Stein’s Autobiography simultaneously reworks the spiritual autobiography made most famous by Daniel Defoe’s The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (Rabin, 107–108). Stein herself instructs her readers (albeit belatedly) to read her text in the context of Defoe’s, claiming that she writes Alice’s autobiography “as simply as Defoe did the autobiography of Robinson Crusoe” (252), a text that “created an angry sensation, catalyzing fierce debates over truth and fiction, author and protagonist,” as would Stein’s (Wagner-Martin, 202). Hence Stein subverts her own title, as if to show that expectations of unitary truth are not realistic in the modern age: “The Autobiography does lie. What packaging does not?” (Stimpson, 153–154). Certainly critics discuss the Autobiography as a work of fiction, praising Stein’s characterization, for example, in a way that would not be appropriate for a nonfictional portrayal. For example, the Gertrude Stein character is called one of author Stein’s “most successful heroines,” comparable to the equally fictional Melanctha Herbert of Three Lives (Dearborn, 178). Thematically, the Autobiography questions the nature of the self (Chessman, 62); structurally, it offers an image of the self through an outsider’s view (Breslin, 152). In keeping with the novel genre’s fundamental didacticism (Hunter, 54), the Autobiography espouses the purpose of “tell[ing the reader] how two americans happened to be in the heart of an art movement of which the outside world at that time knew nothing” (28), a subject of particular interest for “Gertrude Stein” who “always was, . . . always is, tormented by the problem of the external and the internal” (119). Contrary to what some angered contemporaries believed, Stein’s purpose was neither self-aggrandizement nor gossip-mongering. Rather, Stein uses the lens of the beloved other to explore the growth of the self, and the voice of the beloved other to place the self within its social context. At the same time, Stein manages to transcend the very individual experience she portrays: Typical of modernism’s emphasis on the microcosmic (Cantor, 6), the Autobiography implicitly offers the development of the individual artist as a synecdoche for the development of modern art. That she does so in a way that is immensely readable and entertaining is all to her credit.

SOURCES Abraham, Julie. Are Girls Necessary? Lesbian Writing and Modern Histories. New York: Routledge, 1996. Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 6th ed. Fort Worth, Tex.: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1993. Breslin, James E. “Gertrude Stein and the Problems of Autobiography,” in Critical Essays on Gertrude Stein, edited by Michael J. Hoffman, 149–159. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1986. Cantor, Norman. Twentieth-Century Culture: Modernism to Deconstruction. New York: Peter Lang, 1988. Chessman, Harriet Scott. The Public Is Invited to Dance: Representation, the Body, and Dialogue in Gertrude Stein. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1989. Dearborn, Mary V. Pocahontas’s Daughters: Gender and Ethnicity in American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Defoe, Daniel. The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. 1719. New York: Penguin Books, 1985. Hunter, J. Paul. Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990. Rabin, Jessica G. Surviving the Crossing: (Im)migration, Ethnicity and Gender in Willa Cather, Gertrude Stein, and Nella Larsen. New York: Routledge, 2004. Stein, Gertrude. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. 1933. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Stimpson, Catherine R. “Gertrude Stein and the Lesbian Lie,” in American Women’s Autobiography: Fea(s)ts of Memory, edited by Margo Culley, 152–166. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992. Wagner-Martin, Linda. “Favored Strangers”: Gertrude Stein and Her Family. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995. Watt, Ian. The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967. Jessica Rabin

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN EX-COLOURED MAN, THE JAMES WELDON JOHNSON (1912) This fictional autobiography and narrative achieved belated critical and commercial success during the Harlem Renaissance. The novel’s first audience took it to be a straight autobiography, much to the surprise of JOHNSON, who noted that it was no “human document.” He had written a novel about a black man passing for white that itself passed as autobiography, but he fully intended


it to be outed. Eventually he wrote a real autobiography to set the record straight. Far from being a straight “human document,” the novel is intensely parodic. It borrows from the genre of slave narrative, complete with familiar features like an authenticating preface, a cottage where the narrator’s white father installs his black mother, a trip south in a linen closet, and an escape north. But Johnson’s imitation is repetition with a difference. He writes the preface himself, imitating white publishers; imbeds the memory of slave auctions in the scene where the narrator’s white father puts a keepsake coin around his neck; complicates his hero’s relationship with his mother beyond the expected veneration of the slave mother. He also parodies the digressions of 19th-century fiction, and of the 20th-century African-American immersion ritual, as outlined by the critic Robert Stepto, who himself recognizes in Johnson’s Autobiography what he terms an “aborted immersion ritual.” Johnson maintains an ironic distance from his narrator, whose decision to pass he condemns. The anonymous “ex-colored man,” antihero of a novel that Johnson almost titled “The Chameleon,” moves from persona to persona toward ultimate blankness and ends his narrative on a note of high tragedy, having sold his “birthright for a mess of pottage.” He is often incapable of self-analysis, noting only a “vague feeling of unsatisfaction, of regret, or almost remorse,” and acknowledging that it would be “a curious study . . . to analyse the motives which prompt me.” He is a man of mixed emotions throughout, and uses the word half repeatedly, almost desperately, in an attempt to communicate internal division. He is, for example, “divided between a desire to weep and a desire to curse,” prone to experience life as a series of clumsy paradoxes, such as his “little tragedies,” on the first page. When he discovers ragtime, with its syncopated melody line played against a straight or routine accompaniment, we see that he has finally found a potentially positive metaphor for his selfhood: a bundle of conflicting motifs that are somehow harmonious. But he persistently demonstrates too extreme an interest in style over substance, believing that “eloquence consists more in the manner of saying than

what is said.” His lack of self-awareness and the numerous textual evasions and elisions undermine his very attempt at autobiography, and so go beyond the rhythms of ragtime, which did maintain a straight line alongside syncopation. His narrative also serves the opposite purpose to that of the slave narratives, which traditionally narrated a Self into existence; this unreliable narrator, with a void past and numerous shifting identities, in fact syncopates himself off the page, and narrates himself out of existence. Early in the novel, in a symbolic destruction of his heritage and roots, he digs up the African glass bottles in his yard and then repeats this gesture later when he tries to “mine” the slave songs of the South. Johnson, writing against the passing of slave culture, makes a claim for the value of historical memory, and so his alienated narrator seems often to be Johnson’s alter ego, exorcised in fiction. The narrator, in turn, identifies his alter ego, his black self, in the victim of a lynching; the violent incident prompts his flight from the South and his decision to let the world believe him to be white. Witnessing the death of his past self, he leaves that self behind. This tragedy of blankness and lost identity is the result, however, of the situation in America that W. E. B. DuBois called “the problem of the color-line.” Johnson’s ex-colored man is DuBois’s famous “double selfconsciousness,” or “second-sight in this American world,” made flesh. The narrator views the “coloured man” as “an adaptable creature,” as he explains, with a “dual personality.” He bemoans the “literary concept of the American Negro” that has made it “almost impossible to get the reading public to recognize him.” His double consciousness means that he looks at the “fine specimens of young manhood” at Atlanta University and sees the “patriarchal ‘uncles’ of the old slave regime”: the students seem to have a double existence, straddling two moments. Later, when we realize that the man who lets the narrator ride in his porter’s closet to Jacksonville has probably made this imprisonment necessary by stealing his money and clothes, we reread “doubled up in the porter’s basket” with new attention: Like the Atlanta students, the narrator has a double existence at this moment, for he is both himself and a slave in a


slave ship, transported by the man who took away his means of traveling freely. Then, through the repeated use of sudden plot twists, we feel the presence of several parallel lives: He writes “so changed the whole course of my life,” or later, “another course of my life brought these dreams to an end,” and again, “another decided turn was brought about in my life”— approaching and denying possibility after possibility, he demands that we imagine his life had he attended Atlanta University, or married a young schoolteacher and remained in Jacksonville, or continued as a gambler at a “Club.” We feel not just a “dual personality” but a multiple one. Blacks are “a mystery to the whites,” the narrator realizes, and eventually to themselves too, for, as DuBois puts it in The Souls of Black Folk, they possess the sense of “always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.”

SOURCES DuBois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk. Chicago, Ill.: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1903. Johnson, James Weldon. The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man. Boston: Sherman, French, 1912. Fabi, M. Giulia. Passing and the Rise of the African American Novel. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001. Goellnicht, Donald C. “Passing as Autobiography,” in Critical Essays on James Weldon Johnson, edited by Kenneth M. Price and Lawrence J. Oliver, 17–33. New York: G. K. Hall; London: Prentice Hall International, 1997. Kostelanetz, Richard. “James Weldon Johnson,” in Politics in the African-American Novel: James Weldon Johnson, W. E. B. DuBois, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. Sundquist, Eric J. “These Old Slave Songs: The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man,” in The Hammers of Creation: Folk Culture in Modern African-American Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992. Zoe Trodd

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MISS JANE PITTMAN, THE ERNEST GAINES (1971) Although Ernest GAINES has lived in California since he was 15, all of his stories and novels are deeply rooted in the black culture and storytelling traditions of his native home state of Louisiana. Gaines was born on the River Lake Plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, near Oscar, Louisiana, the area he calls Bayonne in his fic-

tion. In 1963, having decided to write about his home, he returned there for six months, looking up and interviewing old neighbors and friends, doing research into the history of the area, and taking photographs of the locations in which most of his fiction is set. Since 1963, Gaines has returned to Louisiana annually; and since 1981, he has been teaching creative writing each fall term at the University of Southwestern Louisiana at Lafayette. He is the author of numerous essays, short stories, and novels. His well-known novel, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, for which he won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1973–74, was made into an Emmy Award–winning television movie in 1974. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971) chronicles the personal quest of a 110-year-old exslave for freedom and equality, and the struggle of an entire race of people who daily contend with, and strive to overcome, insufferable oppression in their environment. Set in rural Louisiana and divided into four parts—“The War Years,” “Reconstruction,” “The Plantation,” and “The Quarters”—the book is framed as a series of tape-recorded interviews held with Jane by a young history teacher. During a critical time in American history, from the early 1860s to the onset of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, Jane witnesses and confronts a number of injustices and personal tragedies, including the loss of her husband and adopted son. Though she is not the only central character in the novel, it is important that Gaines empowers her as an illiterate black female first-person narrator, someone who is “a living repository” (Carmean, 61) of the lives of others. Therefore, by granting Jane an authentic voice, which unifies the episodic structure of the novel, her life story, like those of Sojourner Truth, Harriet JACOBS and Harriet WILSON, gives great insight into their slave experience, and clearly identifies her as the spokesperson for, and a leader of the African-American race. Moreover, by imbuing Jane with his Aunt Augustine Jefferson’s characteristics of courage, fortitude, and determination, Gaines allows us to examine in some depth the various ways he represents gender roles, especially of women such as Miss Jane Pittman, who find it virtually impossible to accept restrictions imposed on them by a racist society.


Throughout the novel, Jane attempts to define her own identity and make herself as free as possible. As a young slave, working as both a domestic and a field servant, she is rebellious, stubborn, sassy, courageous, curious, and, at times, physically aggressive. She is even perceived as disrespectful and ungrateful, but much of the way she behaves is due to the tremendous impact that being denied freedom has on her life. Viewed from a historical perspective, readers can understand Jane’s daring motivation to resist this oppressive system, designed exclusively to keep her— and all black people—physically and mentally enslaved. When the young Jane tells her mistress, “ . . . My name ain’t no Ticey no more, it’s Miss Jane Brown” (9), a name suggested by Corporal Brown, she is beaten severely for saying it and finally sent to the fields. However, Jane’s ability to choose her own name with the title “Miss” represents her first significant step in defining herself as a free person instead of as a slave. Jane’s persistent attitude and spunk is what drives her through the many years and hardships, and defines her as a leader in her community. As Jane ages, she becomes the matriarch, the leader of the entire black community because of her strength, wisdom, and character. She states, “ . . . these old bones is tired, . . . but they ain’t ready to lay down for good, yet” (207). Ironically, Jane is free but lives on a plantation, where she commands much respect, though she lives in a larger society that degrades her as a black woman. By repositioning Jane from the cook’s house to “down in the quarters,” Gaines allows her to be closer to her people, so that she can share her numerous experiences and offer them love and constant support. She is a surrogate mother to Ned, whom she fostered in the days after slavery, the stepmother to Joe Pittman’s two daughters, and she plays a key role to many of the youths on the Samson plantation. After the death of her husband, Joe Pittman, who was a brave man, skilled at breaking horses, Jane takes on a much larger role as the mother of the church until her title is rescinded because she refuses to hold her tongue or to give up her love for sports and cartoons. Yet, despite the change in her status and age, she is still looked upon as a spiritual force, the moral backbone of the community.

For the black men striving to achieve respect, as well as economic and political equality, Jane is a steady influence. Young Jimmy Aaron, whom they all thought was “the One,” visits Jane to elicit her support to partake in his protest, and she suggests that he must “talk” to “wake up” the people. At a time when the black community particularly needs to claim its rights, Jane may be looked upon as too passive, or having too little influence, but the community believes her “mere presence will bring forth multitudes” (229) and lead them to victory. By the end of the novel Jane’s role as a community leader is fully realized when she hears of Jimmy’s violent death and confronts Robert Samson, the plantation owner who represents the old southern social order, and courageously, even audaciously, walks by him to march the crowd toward Bayonne to drink from the for-whites-only fountain. As a black woman, Jane’s triumph over Robert Samson is critical. When she asserts, “Me and Robert looked at each other there a long time, then I went by him” (246), it suggests an equal social status, one without fear of harm or any of the earlier threats in her life of being beaten, killed, or sold. Samson no longer has power over her, and her courage and her leadership speak volumes for black women, and by extension black Americans, who are unafraid to challenge an archaic system in much need of recognizing the civil and social rights of black people. By depicting Jane as a spirited woman, a leader and crusader for much of her life, whose defiant attitude and resilience help her persist throughout her journey, Gaines seems to suggest there is hope for a better future. However, a closer reading of the novel suggests that class and gender inequalities, which have kept women of color from making significant progress from the mid1960s to the present, still exist and that the long personal battle for freedom and equality is far from over.

SOURCES Byerman, Keith E. Fingering the Jagged Grain: Tradition and Form in Recent Black Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985. Carmean, Karen. Ernest J. Gaines: A Critical Companion. Westport Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998. Gaines, Ernest J. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. New York: Bantam, 1972.


Gaudet, Marcia. “Miss Jane and Personal Experience Narrative: Ernest Gaines’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” Western Folklore 51 (1992): 23–32. Loretta G. Woodard

AWAKENING, THE KATE CHOPIN (1899) Critically attacked and dubbed scandalous in its own time, Kate CHOPIN’s The Awakening (1899) is one of the earliest American novels that openly confronts the subject of female sexual desire. The novel’s main character, Edna Pontellier, rejects the traditional roles of wife and mother, which she believes have been forced upon her by society. Instead, she chooses to lead an unconventional life by moving out of her husband’s home and engaging in an extramarital affair. Edna’s “awakening,” then, is of a sexual nature. During the course of the novel she becomes aware of her physical desire for other men and decides to act on her impulses. Edna’s impulsive behavior, which prompts her to flout the conventions of 19th-century Louisiana’s conservative French Creole society, culminates in her suicide at the end of the novel. Crucial to understanding Chopin’s novel is an understanding of the context in which it was written. Many other writers during the period, such as Henry JAMES and William Dean HOWELLS, were involved in a literary debate over the implications of Charles Darwin’s theories of sexual selection on human love relationships. This debate produced several novels focused on courtship and marriage at the turn of the 20th century. Chopin’s novel is an important contribution to this debate, since it provides a woman’s perspective on the issue of female sexual choice and argues that women, too, experience instinctual sexual desire. The novel opens with Edna’s experiencing “an indescribable oppression” (8). As she embarks on her awakening, mainly inspired by her growing sexual desire for the attractive bachelor Robert Lebrun, Edna begins to realize that the oppression she feels results from lifelong repression of her natural desires. Later, after Edna has decided to rely solely on her instincts as a guide to living, Dr. Mandelet makes an important comment that reveals much insight into her character. While observing her at a dinner party, he notices that Edna “seemed palpitant with the forces of life. . . .

There was no repression in her glance or gesture. She reminded him of some beautiful, sleek animal waking up in the sun” (67). Edna has become poignantly aware that she, too, experiences and is compelled to act on her sexual desires. Repeatedly, Edna is characterized as “impulsive” (19). Chopin writes that she “was blindly following whatever impulse moved her” (32) and “lending herself to any passing caprice” (54). This decision to ignore the conventions of her society and follow her natural instincts arouses the ire of some in her social circle. Her husband is particularly disturbed by the change in her behavior, though he remains unaware of her extramarital affairs. Besides her sexual indiscretions, Edna’s complete rejection of motherhood has drawn much fire from critics. Reviewers have labeled Edna as selfish and even childlike. Perhaps this is easily justifiable when she makes such comments as, “But I don’t want anything but my own way” (105), and when she admits that she would never sacrifice herself for her children. In her defense, however, Chopin reveals that Edna was not a “mother-woman” (9). Unlike the epitome of motherhood in the novel, Madame Ratignolle, Edna did not willingly choose to adopt the role of mother. Rather, she feels she was forced into it by the dictates of her society. The Awakening argues that motherhood is not a natural instinct in all women, an argument that was shocking in its time but that is widely accepted in the early 21st century. After Robert Lebrun decides not to reject the conventions of his society and participate in an affair with a married woman, Edna comes to see that she cannot have everything her own way. This realization brings Edna to her ambiguous suicide at the end of the novel. Edna’s death has been viewed in two distinct ways. Some have argued that Edna can find the complete freedom she is looking for only in death. Edna embraces the “seductive” voice of the sea that calls her “to swim far out, where no woman had swum before”—so far out that she is incapable of returning to shore (27). Her death, then, is the ultimate release from the imprisonment of a society that cannot accept a woman who is completely in tune with her own instinctual nature. Others, however, have argued that Edna’s death is a punishment for her utter selfishness. Since she cannot have her own way, Edna, in despair, ends her life. Some


readers have difficulty imagining that Chopin is simply punishing Edna, who comes much closer than anyone else in the novel to realizing her true nature, unless, as others have argued, Chopin felt compelled to punish this unruly woman by using the strictures of her own society. Whatever the case, The Awakening remains an important text that explores significant changes in

modern conceptions of female sexuality already underway at the end of the 19th century.

SOURCE Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. Edited by Margo Culley. New York: W. W. Norton, 1994. Kathleen Hicks


BD his “Portrait of an American Citizen,” writes that Babbitt, as a representative of American culture, lacks any originality. Stephen S. Conroy summarizes Babbitt as a person of “conformity” and “adjustment” who has a “vague hope for a freer future” (in Bloom, 76). In a review for the Nation, Ludwig Lewisohn noted that “the future historian of American civilization will turn to [Babbitt] with infinite profit, with mingled amusement, astonishment, and pity” (284). The conformist adventurer’s tragic experience points to the characteristics of the national business culture. The mechanical business life has reduced individuals to machines good at producing profits yet poor at expressing their emotions. The writer, in recounting the protagonistís adventures, does, however, offer healing sources: work, vacation, and love affairs, all of which are effective only briefly. By the end, the protagonist’s pathetic lamentation over the meaninglessness of his life provokes the complacent reader into asking vital questions: How can a person stick to something that he or she dislikes? What are the elements of true individuality? Since society and individuals are never separate, individuals remain imprisoned as long as the society imposes upon them rigid beliefs about the nature of success. The agents of such a culture range from the successful to the unsuccessful, from men to women, from the young to the old. Paul’s tragedy illustrates the destructive consequences of imposing the ideal of material success on an individual. His shooting of his wife can be interpreted as a protest against the dominant business

BABBITT SINCLAIR LEWIS (1922) Published in 1922, Babbitt won praise from contemporary critics for Sinclair Lewis’s use of photographic realism, believable American dialogue, and satirical portrayal of smalltown America. The novel relates the experience of businessman George Folansbee Babbitt in the typical Midwestern city of Zenith. Though he has been used to middle-class conventions and believes in the virtues of home life, he suddenly feels tired of his life and takes a vacation with Paul Riesling, who finds it difficult to live as a busy man with a nagging wife. Paul has also been largely interpreted as a sensitive artist figure and, occasionally, as object of Babbitt’s unacknowledged homosexual leanings. Babbitt finds it impossible to escape from the conventional business life, but he soon discovers pleasure in campaigning for a friend running for mayor, in negotiating several profitable real-estate deals, in holding the vice presidency of the Boosters’ Club, and in giving speeches on important social occasions. Paul’s imprisonment for shooting his wife Zilla gives Babbitt a deep shock. Burdened with business engagements and bored with conventions, Babbitt finds an outlet from Zenith standards by having an affair with a widow, Mrs. Tanis Judique, during his wife’s absence. He then turns to liberalism until he is threatened with losing his chances for making profits. He is able to embrace the Zenith standards when his wife Myra is suddenly taken ill, but he is disillusioned with a life in which he has never done anything he likes, and he expects his son to live a better life. H. L. Mencken, in 95


culture. It is the ceaseless gaining and purchasing that drives individuals to the brink of madness. Men are expected to increase their earnings so that they can maintain their masculine pride. Women and children yearn for more luxuries so that they might be envied. Social status is established according to the luxury items each family owns. The richness of material life, therefore, forms a glaring contrast to the poverty of emotional life. No wonder domestic harmony is threatened and spiritual death becomes a distinct possibility. The novel as a whole examines not only American marriages but also the poverty of the working class, the influence of fringe religious groups, and the nature of politics and government. Indeed, critic George H. Douglas, writing in 1972, claims that the novel still has something to teach us. He maintains that Lewis remains an important writer “because he grappled doggedly with some elemental qualities of our experience,” qualities that are “as persistent today as they were in the 1920s” (661). What qualities, then, should an ideal citizen possess? With the fluid boundaries between work and life, it is possible to think that work is a kind of life and vice versa. The quality that counts is perhaps this: The fortunate individual chooses between conventionality and individualism. Certainly the United States is home to millions of Babbitts and Pauls, yet how many happy individuals does it contain? In Douglas’s words, Lewis’s genius lay in his ability to perceive that, within the 20th century’s social and moral complexities, the “great American dream was often nothing but a faint and powerless shadow, consigned to the dark recesses of the mind” (662).

SOURCES Bloom, Harold. Sinclair Lewis. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. Douglas, George H. “Babbitt at Fifty—The Truth Still Hurts.” Nation, 22 May 1972, pp. 661–662. Lewis, Sinclair. Babbitt. 1922. Reprint, New York: Signet Classic, 1950. Lewisohn, Ludwig. Review of Babbitt. Nation, 20 September 1922, pp. 284–285. Li Jin

BACHO, PETER (1950– )

Peter Bacho won the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for his debut novel, CEBU (1991). He followed

Cebu with the short-story collections entitled Dark Blue Suit and Other Stories (1997) and Boxing in Black and White (1999). All his works, including his second novel, Nelson’s Run (2002), focus on contemporary Filipino Americans. Like the protagonists in both his novels, Peter Bacho is a Filipino American, the son of immigrant parents from Cebu in the Philippines. Born in 1950, Bacho graduated summa cum laude from Seattle University in 1971, and earned a law degree from the University of Washington in 1976. He worked as an attorney and a journalist before becoming a professor of law and Philippine history at the University of Seattle. He is married to a Native American from Tacoma, Washington. Bacho’s award-winning novel Cebu, a provocative, haunting tale set in both Seattle and the Philippines, takes its title from the Philippine city near Manila where Ben Lucero, the protagonist, travels with his mother’s coffin at the opening of the novel. Lucero, a Catholic priest in a Seattle parish, confronts issues of identity, ethnicity, and spirituality in the home of his ancestors as well as in his American home. He has a reunion with his childhood friend Teddy and interacts with three women central to his life: his mother, Remedios, who was incarcerated in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II and vowed that her son would become a priest; Clara, her best friend from prison camp days who, unlike Remedios, rejected religion; and Clara’s assistant Ellen, a young woman who seduces Lucero and becomes pregnant with his child. The originality, realistically depicted characters, and “disturbing” quality of Cebu (a word recurring frequently in reviews of the novel) are responsible for its appearance on the required reading lists of many university Asian-American literature courses. In Bacho’s most recent novel, Nelson’s Run (2002), Nelson, the Filipino-American protagonist, travels to the Philippine island of Samar after his father’s death. A dark, sometimes humorous, political and sexual satire in which Nelson divides his time between the wealthy Anita and the politically radical Marta, the novel evokes issues of Filipino Americans, neocolonialism, and their conflicted relationships with white America and the Philippines of their immigrant parents.


NOVELS Cebu. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991. Nelson’s Run. Holliston, Mass.: Willowgate Press, 2002.

SOURCES Campomanes, Oscar. “Filipinos in the U.S. and Their Literature of Exile.” In Reading the Literatures of Asian America, edited by Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Amy Ling, 49–78. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992. Pisares, Elizabeth H. “Payback Time: Neocolonial Discourses in Peter Bacho’s Cebu,” MELUS (March 22, 2004): 79–98. Tizon, Alex. “Peter Bacho Writes for the Same Reason He Fights—To Keep a Connection to His Past.” Seattle Times Living, 1 March 1998. Unsigned review of Cebu, Publishers Weekly 238, no. 43 (September 27, 1991): 42.

OTHER Kessler, Rachel. “Sexy and Scary: Peter Bacho.” The Stranger. Available online. URL: http://www.thestranger. com/2002-04-11/books.html. Accessed July 14, 2005.

BAKER, NICHOLSON (1957– ) Nicholson Baker, with five novels to his credit, is concerned with stretching the limits of postmodernism. He is particularly known for his obsession with the detail of everyday living. He elevates the meaning of this trivia to a philosophical level, and, in addition, scrutinizes and describes the details of sexual experience. In the words of novelist David Shields, Baker “is a kind of literary Statue of Liberty—give him our wretched refuse and he’ll turn it into poetry” (Shields, 8). Always writing to mixed reviews, Baker has been called vulgar and pornographic by some critics, and artistically erotic by others. Nicholson Baker was born on January 7, 1957, in Rochester, New York, to Douglas Baker, an advertising executive, and Ann Nicholson Baker. After one year at the Eastman School of Music, Baker transferred to Haverford College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in English in 1980. He moved to Berkeley, California, married Margaret Brentano, and enrolled in a writing workshop with author Donald BARTHELME at the University of California at Berkeley. By 1987 he was publishing short stories and writing full time, and in 1988 he published his first novel, The Mezzanine. An early example of Baker’s indifference to plot, it features Howie, a youthful office worker, during his hour-long

lunch break; Howie’s simple lunch of hot dogs, cookies, and milk, along with his purchase of a pair of shoelaces is juxtaposed to his reading of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. Baker followed with Room Temperature (1990), a novel in which the protagonist, Mike, during the 20 minutes he takes to feed a bottle to his infant daughter, reflects on his life from childhood to fatherhood. As early novels, both were praised for their technical virtuosity and melding of commonplace details with intellectually satisfying analyses of the cultural debris of our era. His next two novels, Vox (1992) and The Fermata (1994), are concerned with the pornographic images of his characters’ thoughts and behavior. In Vox, Jim and Abby engage in extended phone sex, exchanging explicit sexual fantasies. The Fermata focuses on Arno Strine, who argues that he is respectable and well educated, although he fondles and exploits women and writes pornography while masturbating. The Everlasting Story of Nory (1998), Baker’s most recent novel, uses the longer time frame of one year and the perspective of Nory, a nine-year-old girl, whose family moves from California to a small town in England. Whether writing of shoelaces or pornographic relationships, Baker seems to have a secure niche in contemporary fiction. To his fans, in the words of scholar Arthur Saltzman, he has the “patience and meticulousness” to “tweeze poetry out of a seemingly prosaic environment” (Saltzman, 1). He lives with his wife in Berkeley, where he continues to write.

NOVELS The Everlasting Story of Nory. New York: Random House, 1998. The Fermata. New York: Random House, 1994. The Mezzanine. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988. Room Temperature. New York: Grove-Weidenfeld, 1990. Vox. New York: Random House, 1992.

SOURCES Chambers, Ross. “Meditation and the Escalator Principle,” Modern Fiction Studies 40 (Winter 1994): 765–806. Darling, Lynn. “The Highbrow Smut of Nicholson Baker.” Esquire, February 1994, pp. 76–80. Dodd, David. “Requiem for the Discarded,” Library Journal 121 (May 15, 1996): 31–32. Hall, Dennis. “Nicholson Baker’s Vox: An Exercise in the Literature of Sensibility,” Connecticut Review 17 (Spring 1995): 35–40.


Harris, Michael. Review of Room Temperature. Los Angeles Times Book Review, 1 April 1990, p. 6. Kaplan, James. “Hot Vox.” Vanity Fair, January 1992, pp. 118–121, 125–127. Mallon, Thomas. “The Fabulous Baker Boy.” Gentleman’s Quarterly, May 1996, pp. 82–85. Saltzman, Arthur. “To See a World in a Grain of Sand: Expanding Literary Minimalism,” Contemporary Literature 31 (Winter 1990): 423–433. ———. Understanding Nicholson Baker. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. Shields, David. “Ludd’s Labor’s Lost,” Voice Literary Supplement 41 (May 1996): 8. Simmons, Philip E. “Toward the Postmodern Historical Imagination: Mass Culture in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer and Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine,” Contemporary Literature 33 (Winter 1992): 601–624. States, Bert O. “On First Looking into Baker’s Index,” Salmagundi 109–110 (Winter–Spring 1996): 153–162.

OTHER Alexander, Laurence, and David Strauss. “An Interview with Nicholson Baker.” Alternative-X. Available online. URL: http://www.altx.com/interviews/nicholson.baker.html. Accessed August 22, 2005. Miller, Laura. “Lifting Up the Madonna.” Salon.com. Available online. URL: http://www.salon.com/10/features/baker1. html. Accessed May 26, 2005.

BALDWIN, JAMES (ARTHUR) (1924–1987) One of the most significant and influential 20th-century American authors, James Baldwin gained renown as an essayist, a novelist, a story writer, a playwright, as well as a civil rights activist and a tireless public speaker. The grandson of a slave, Baldwin, who lived on the racial, sexual, and cultural margins of the United States, “literally wrote his way into the very center of his nation’s cultural life and into the heart of his country’s conscience” (Nelson, 6). He published six novels. GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN (1953), his first, now classic, novel, is a fictionalized autobiographical account of a young man growing up black in white-dominated America. His second, Giovanni’s Room (1956), tells a tale of interracial and homosexual love, as does his third, Another Country (1962), a best-selling protest novel in which, for the first time, Baldwin combines both racial and sexual themes, arguing implicitly for a country that can transcend prejudice of all kinds. His fourth novel, Tell Me How Long the

Train’s Been Gone (1968) is a thoughtful examination of the life of a bisexual black artist, while the fifth, If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), focuses on heterosexuality and the racist nature of the justice system. In his final novel, Just above My Head (1979), Baldwin features a gay black artist whose death prompts Baldwin to examine racism, homophobia, art, and love. James Arthur Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, in New York City’s Harlem, to Emma Berdis Jones. Three years later, his mother married David Baldwin, a Baptist minister whose abusive behavior is chronicled in Go Tell It on the Mountain. Although Baldwin’s conversion at age 14 lasted only three years, the rhetorical rhythms and cadences of the pulpit are clearly embedded in Baldwin’s strongly affective, poetic prose. After graduating from De Witt Clinton High School, Baldwin worked odd jobs and wrote, but his frequent encounters with racism fueled his decision, at age 24, to move to Paris and live as an expatriate, a choice he would indulge intermittently throughout his life. Go Tell It on the Mountain, published five years later, is at once a classic bildungsroman and an examination of the social, religious, and sexual hindrances that face a young black American. While in France, Baldwin formed a relationship, one of the most significant in his life, with Lucien Happersberger, and wrote two other works that established him as a major American writer: Notes of a Native Son (1955), an essay collection focusing on American racial problems, and Giovanni’s Room. Numerous critics see Notes, along with Go Tell It on the Mountain, as Baldwin’s masterpieces. Given its explicitly homosexual theme, Giovanni’s Room, on the other hand, initially had trouble finding a publisher. The novel was a then daring exploration of white sexual identity, the Jamesian tale of David, an American expatriate who falls in love with Giovanni, an Italian, and is ultimately tried for the murder of Guillaume, his abusive employer, and sentenced to death. Baldwin followed this tale with one more sharply focused on racial bigotry and protest, Another Country, comprising four narratives about interracial sexual relationships: the black jazz musician Rufus Scott loves Leona, a poor southern white woman; Rufus’s sister, Ida, a blues singer, loves the Irish-Italian bisexual Vivaldo, an aspiring writer; the Polish-American Richard, a novelist,


is married to the wealthy upper-class Cass; and the white southern Eric Jones loves Yves, a Parisian prostitute. As critics have noted, these eight characters constitute a microcosm of American society, and give Baldwin a springboard for exploring tension and conflict and for offering his own vision of a different country. Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone and If Beale Street Could Talk both explore the lives of American artists. In the former, Leo Proudhammer looks back on his rise from an impoverished life in Harlem to the highly successful actor he has become; he has also suffered because of his love affairs with Barbara, a white actress, and with Christopher, a black militant. In the latter, a young sculptor, Fonny Hunt, loves Clementine, the young Harlem woman who is pregnant with his baby, but he is jailed on false rape charges. Baldwin structures the story as a blues lament. His final novel, Just above My Head, begins with the death of Arthur Montana, a black gay gospel singer, and explores his life through the reminiscences of his brother, Hall Montana, an advertising executive, who learns to comprehend several forms of love. James Baldwin is assured of a prominent spot in the annals of American fiction. Go Tell It on the Mountain was dramatized under the same title for the Public Broadcasting System’s American Playhouse series on January 14, 1985. A musical play based on Baldwin’s life, A Prophet among Them, was written by Wesley Brown and first produced in 2001.

NOVELS Another Country. New York: Dial, 1962. Giovanni’s Room. New York: Dial, 1956. Go Tell It on the Mountain. New York: Knopf, 1953. If Beale Street Could Talk. New York: Dial, 1974. Just above My Head. New York: Dial, 1979. Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone. New York: Dial, 1968.

SOURCES Bloom, Harold, ed. James Baldwin. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. Bone, Robert. The Negro Novel in America. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1965. Campbell, James. Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin. New York: Viking, 1991. Chametzky, Jules, ed. Black Writers Redefine Struggle: A Tribute to James Baldwin. Amherst, Mass.: Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, 1989.

Champion, Ernest A. Mr. Baldwin, I Presume: James Baldwin—Chinua Achebe: A Meeting of the Minds. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1995. Eckman, Fern Marja. The Furious Passage of James Baldwin. New York: Evans, 1966. Gibson, Donald B., ed. Five Black Writers: Essays on Wright, Ellison, Baldwin, Hughes, and LeRoi Jones. New York: New York University Press, 1970. Gottfried, Ted. James Baldwin: Voice from Harlem. New York: F. Watts, 1997. Harris, Trudier. Black Women in the Fiction of James Baldwin. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985. ———. New Essays on Go Tell It on the Mountain. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Jothiprakash, R. Commitment as a Theme in African American Literature: A Study of James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison. Bristol, Ind.: Wyndham Hall Press, 1994. Kenan, Randall. James Baldwin. New York: Chelsea House, 1994. Kinnamon, Kenneth, ed. James Baldwin: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1974. Leeming, David Adams. James Baldwin: A Biography. New York: Henry Holt, 1995. Macebuh, Stanley. James Baldwin: A Critical Study. New York: Third Press, 1973. Nelson, Emmanuel S. “James Baldwin.” In Contemporary Gay American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson, 6–24. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. O’Daniel, Therman B. James Baldwin: A Critical Evaluation. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1977. Porter, Horace. Stealing the Fire: The Art and Protest of James Baldwin. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1989. Pratt, Louis Hill. James Baldwin. Boston: Twayne, 1978. Standley, Fred, and Louis Pratt. Conversations with James Baldwin. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1989. Standley, Fred and Nancy Burt. Critical Essays on James Baldwin. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981. Sylvander, Carolyn Wedin. James Baldwin. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1980. Tachach, James. James Baldwin. San Diego, Calif.: Lucent Books, 1996. Trope, Quincy, ed. James Baldwin: The Legacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989. Washington, Bryan R. The Politics of Exile: Ideology in Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Baldwin. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1995. Weatherby, William J. James Baldwin: Artist on Fire. New York: Donald I. Fine, 1989.


THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFÉ CARSON MCCULLERS (1951) Carson McCULLERS’s short novel, The Ballad of the Sad Café, brings the uncanny to the fore. Three bizarre main characters populate the dreary southern landscape to advance McCullers’s recurrent themes of isolation and loss. The female Amazon figure, Miss Amelia Evans; ex-convict and Miss Amelia’s ex-husband, Marvin Macy; and the hunchbacked dwarf Cousin Lymon, come together in a chaotic and grotesque depiction of male domination that, in the end, leaves Miss Amelia “sprawled on the floor, her arms flung outward and motionless” (454). McCullers demonstrates male incursion in the text through the unusual alliance of Marvin Macy and Cousin Lymon—despite Marvin Macy’s cruel treatment of the disfigured stranger and Miss Amelia’s generosity toward him. The reader learns that women who transgress typical gender roles are put in their place by a strict southern patriarchal system that resists change— especially change that shifts the social hierarchy to support women. Although Miss Amelia enjoys financial independence, doctors the townspeople with folk medicine, and distills the best whiskey in the county, in the end she pays dearly for having entered stereotypically male arenas. While Miss Amelia is an imposing figure and feared by many townspeople, she loses her commanding presence after Marvin Macy and Cousin Lymon join forces against her. The men demonstrate the freedom with which they move about in the world— despite their shortcomings—while Miss Amelia is criticized and beaten down despite her strength. McCullers initially presents a world with an inverted hierarchy in which a strong woman prevails, having embraced traditionally male roles. But the men reject this role reversal, and Miss Amelia gets her comeuppance before the eyes of her community. As we often see in McCullers’s novels, the text opens with a focus on the local community. “The town itself is dreary; not much is there except the cotton mill, the two room houses where the workers live, a few peach trees, a church with two colored windows, and a miserable main street only a hundred yards long” (397). The reader gets an immediate sense of the desperation of the landscape, which, as we witness, extends to its

inhabitants. Miss Amelia’s house, located in the center of the town, is the town’s largest building. But, like its owner, it is misshapen and peculiar-looking; it “leans so far to the right that it seems bound to collapse at any minute” (397), foreshadowing Miss Amelia’s collapse at the end of the story. Also, “[t]here is about [the house] a curious, cracked look that is very puzzling until you suddenly realize that at one time, and long ago, the right side of the front porch had been painted, and part of the wall—but the painting was left unfinished and one portion of the house is darker and dingier than the other” (397). The lack of symmetry and the overall peculiarity of the house are analogous to the grotesque bodies that loom large in the characterization of both Miss Amelia and Cousin Lymon. Further, gender traits are inverted; Miss Amelia’s physique takes on stereotypically masculine qualities. She was a dark, tall woman with bones and muscles like a man. Her hair was cut short and brushed back from the forehead, and there was about her sunburned face a tense, haggard quality. She might have been a handsome woman if, even then, she was not slightly cross-eyed. . . . Often she spent whole nights back in her shed in the swamp, dressed in overalls and gum boots, silently guarding the low fire of the still (398). Clearly, Miss Amelia not only resembles a man in her outward appearance but also enjoys activities that are typically reserved for men. McCullers hints at the grotesque here by the reference to Miss Amelia’s crossed eyes. But Miss Amelia pays heavily for crossing over to male territory. Like McCullers’s tomboy, Frankie Addams, from The Member of the Wedding, Miss Amelia is male-identified in that she is motherless and was raised alone by her father. While older than Frankie, and having been married to Marvin Macy for 10 days, Miss Amelia resembles Frankie in her rejection of all things sexual. When Frankie accidentally witnesses her family’s boarders, Mr. and Mrs. Marlowe, having intercourse, she tells the housekeeper, Berenice, that she thinks Mr. Marlowe is having a fit. And when the red-haired soldier tries to take Frankie to bed, she hits him over the head with a glass pitcher.


Similarly, Miss Amelia never allows her marriage to Marvin Macy to be consummated. Instead, on her wedding night, dressed in pants and a khaki jacket, she relocates to a downstairs room, reads the Farmer’s Almanac, and smokes her father’s pipe. Even Miss Amelia’s healing methods remind the reader that she rejects female sexuality, and, by extension, female reproduction. “If a patient came with a female complaint she could do nothing. Indeed at the mere mention of the words her face would slowly darken with shame, and she would stand there craning her neck against the collar of her shirt, or rubbing her swamp boots together, for all the world like a great, shamed, dumb-tongued child” (409). Having set herself outside the plot of female romance, Miss Amelia welcomes Cousin Lymon into her home, shares her hospitality with him, and opens a café to the townspeople at his insistence. Cousin Lymon’s childlike body poses no sexual threat to Miss Amelia (Westling, 123). But Miss Amelia’s deviation from the typical domestic script assigned to women in the south leaves her disembodied and bereft at the end of the story. How is the reader to interpret the coda that McCullers includes to close the novel? The 12 mortal men on the chain gang form their own community and, like Miss Amelia, Cousin Lymon, and Marvin Macy, are regarded as socially peripheral. But the 12 mortal men remind us of the types of prisons that exist and the ways we struggle to escape them.

tions Gorilla My Love (1972) and The Sea Birds Are Still Alive (1977), Bambara, a professor and community activist, wrote essays about civil rights and the women’s movement that are collected in The Black Woman (1970), and a collection of folktales entitled Tales and Stories for Black Folk (1971). Bambara was born on March 25, 1939, in New York City, to Helen Cade. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Queens College in 1959 and a master’s degree from the City College of New York in 1964, where her talent was recognized and honed. She began her writing career while teaching at various universities. The Salt Eaters examines a theme already prominent in The Sea Birds Are Still Alive, the rifts among various groups in the black community, especially those between men and women. The Salt Eaters focuses on Velma Henry, a social activist, and Minnie Ransom, a woman who believes in the old healing traditions and folkways. By the end of the novel, both women, to some degree, accept the inevitability of change and learn to live with the insecurities accompanying this force. Also the author of the novel If Blessing Comes (1987), Bambara wrote screenplays and created videos later in her career, including a biography of W. E. B. DuBois. She died of colon cancer on December 9, 1995, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but is still widely read and valued as one of the creators of the current AfricanAmerican literary aesthetic.



McCullers, Carson. Complete Novels. New York: The Library of America, 2001. Stallybrass, Peter, and Allon White. The Politics and Poetics of Transgression. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986. Westling, Louise. Sacred Groves and Ravaged Gardens: The Fiction of Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Flannery O’Connor. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985. Yaeger, Patricia. Dirt and Desire: Reconstructing Southern Women’s Writing, 1930–1990. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

If Blessing Comes. New York: Random House, 1987. The Salt Eaters. New York: Random House, 1980.

Carla Lee Verderame

BAMBARA, TONI CADE (1939–1995)

Best known as a talented writer of short fiction, Toni Cade Bambara is also the author of The SALT EATERS (1980), a complex novel with multiple voices that won the American Book Award. In addition to the short-story collec-

SOURCES Butler-Evans, Elliott. Race, Gender, and Desire: Narrative Strategies in the Fiction of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989. Parker, Bell, and Beverly Guy-Sheftall. Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature. New York: Doubleday, 1979. Prenshaw, Peggy Whitman, ed. Women Writers of the Contemporary South. Oxford: University Press of Mississippi, 1984. Tate, Claudia, ed. Black Women Writers at Work. New York: Continuum, 1983.

BAND OF ANGELS ROBERT PENN WARREN (1955) When Robert Penn WARREN published Band of Angels in 1955, the most frequent critical response was


to compare the novel with Margaret MITCHELL’s 1936 blockbuster GONE WITH THE WIND. Such comparisons spoke volumes about the indelibility of Mitchell’s single novelistic success, which after two decades was still the pattern for fictional treatments of the Civil War and the Reconstruction South, but they did little to help seriousminded readers understand Warren’s novel. To be fair to the reviewers, Warren’s protagonist, Amantha Starr, does share superficial qualities with that ubiquitous southern beauty Scarlett O’Hara: both are the pampered daughters of rich plantation owners, and both see the privileged lives to which they have become accustomed disintegrate along with the South’s fortunes during the Civil War. For Scarlett, the exigencies of a war to preserve the South’s “peculiar institution” result in her choosing a series of loveless marriages and pragmatically assuming tradesperson status in order to preserve Tara, the romantic symbol of her regional heritage. For Manty, however, the loss of her antebellum way of life proves more costly when her supposed identity is revealed as a sham: she discovers, at her father’s death, that her parents had never married—nor could they, since her mother had been one of the enslaved black women on her father’s plantation. Overnight she finds herself transformed from belle to chattel, sold on the slave block to pay her father’s debts. Given the potential for sensationalism in Warren’s plot, critical misreadings of his novel were numerous, and the possibility of further misreading proved inevitable after Yvonne de Carlo and Clark Gable were cast to star in the 1957 film adaptation of Band of Angels. Indeed, it seemed that Warren’s story of Amantha Starr was only, as one reviewer characterized it, “an old-fashioned, three-decker melodramatic romance.” For all that Band of Angels includes characters typical of melodrama—a beautiful and helpless heroine, her several intense male counterparts, a lush Louisiana setting, and the requisite romantic time period—one critic was willing to consider that Warren was not writing in the tradition of Gone with the Wind, but against that tradition, albeit on Margaret Mitchell’s “own grounds and without subterfuge” (Fiedler, 29). According to that critic, Leslie Fiedler, Amantha is an essentially passive character, unwilling to accept her black heritage but unable to return to the easy assump-

tion of white selfhood that ignorance of her real identity had permitted her. As a result, her story becomes only a small part of the broader stories of the equally conflicted men who love her, own her, marry her, or otherwise seek to control her. Seth Parton is infatuated with her, but renounces her for the sake of his soul and his utopian abolitionist vision; Hamish Bond, even as he seeks to escape the guilt of his occupation as a slave trader, buys her and becomes her first lover; Tobias Sears, earnestly fulfilling his role in the postwar Reconstruction government but little suspecting that the woman he loves had once been enslaved, marries her; finally, Rau-Ru, who is enslaved with Manty by Bond and, like her, is the bitter beneficiary of Bond’s ambivalent gestures toward expiation, threatens her—first with exposure and ultimately with an activist agenda she repudiates as steadily as she repudiates her own true identity. And thus Warren repudiates the simplistic labels readers had thought to affix to Band of Angels. Certainly, Warren’s story has many of the earmarks of 19th-century sentimental novels, but with a difference: tears, sighs, and cries of “Poor Manty” to the contrary, Amantha Starr’s secure future is not sealed with a happily-ever-after marriage, as in the fashion of Frances E. W. HARPER’s Iola Leroy; or Shadows Uplifted (1892), wherein an earlier “tragic mulatta” confirms her true identity through marriage, but only after weighing the costs and benefits of denying her racial heritage. If anything, Warren’s novel subverts the classic sentimental form by showing, as did Harriet JACOBS’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), how antebellum slave women were systematically deprived of the very demonstrations of purity and piety that qualified their white counterparts for membership in the “cult of true womanhood.” Perhaps, however, Manty’s story can be most profitably read through its comparison with William Wells BROWN’s Clotel: or The President’s Daughter (1853), a novel purporting to tell the story of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, whose mother had been one of Jefferson’s slaves. The similarities between Clotel and Manty are significant in that they question the complicity of the “father”—both the actual and the symbolic figure—in allowing the tragedy of enslavement to continue. Only two years earlier, the ghost of Thomas Jefferson had


made an appearance in Warren’s Brother to Dragons: A Tale in Verse and Voices (1953), posthumously answering to very similar charges of complicity in the evils of enslavement. In the year after Band of Angels appeared, Warren would publish Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South (1956). True to his time, the racially conflicted era of the 1950s, Warren addressed the issue in multiple discourses, as few writers are empowered to: in poetry, in fiction, and in social commentary. Viewed then in the context of Warren’s writings on race in the 1950s, Amantha Starr becomes a metaphor for American society, which only at great risk to itself denies the elements, both black and white, that give it identity.

SOURCES Ferriss, Lucy. Sleeping with the Boss: Female Subjectivity and Narrative Pattern in Robert Penn Warren. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997. Fiedler, Leslie A. Review of Band of Angels, New Republic 26 (September 1955): 28–30. Justus, James H. The Achievement of Robert Penn Warren. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981. Warren, Robert Penn. Band of Angels. New York: Random House, 1955. Patricia Bradley

BANKS, RUSSELL (1940– ) Praised for his honest and insightful portrayals of complex workingclass characters, usually native New Englanders, Russell Banks is a multitalented novelist, short-fiction writer, and poet who has won awards for the tales in his five story collections. Of special note are his American Book Award–winning The Book of Jamaica (1980), and The Continental Drift (1985) and CLOUDSPLITTER (1998), both finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Banks’s characters endure drug addiction, spousal abuse, alcoholism, bad father-son relationships, infidelity, racism, hopelessness, and the exigencies of working-class life as he sees it. Although his early work was experimental, since 1990 Banks’s gritty and realistic novels have been compared with those of his contemporaries William KENNEDY and Andre DUBUS. Russell Banks was born on March 28, 1940, in Newton, Massachusetts, to Earl Banks, a plumber, and Florence Banks, who became a bookkeeper after her husband deserted her when Banks was 12 years old. After attending Colgate University, marrying Darlene

Bennett in June 1960 (divorced 1962), and marrying Mary Gunst, a poet, also in 1962, he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina in 1967. During this time he cofounded Lillabulero Press with William Matthews and produced a magazine that published the proletarian writer Nelson ALGREN—who tutored Banks at a Breadloaf Writers’ Conference in August 1962—and critic Malcolm Cowley, as well as Beat poets Gary Snyder and Diane Wakoski. After his divorce from Gunst in 1977, two more marriages followed—to Kathy Walton, an editor, from 1982 to 1988, and to Chase Twitchell, a poet, in 1989. Meanwhile, in the decade between 1975 and 1985, Banks published two short-story collections and five novels. The first, Family Life (1975), set in New Hampshire, features characters living in trailers and on the margins. In a satiric reversal of traditional family novels, Banks transforms the roles of Ruth, the mother, Egress, the father, and their three sons with those of king, queen, and princes. In Hamilton Stark (1978), also set in New Hampshire, the main character appears as a brutal alcoholic at one moment and as a kindly, sympathetic man at another. The varied perspectives are those of his daughter, his wives, and an author who refers to himself as “A.” The Relation of My Imprisonment (1984) is Banks’s experiment with a Puritan genre called “Relation”; in his 20th-century version, a prisoner publicly lists the sins that sent him to jail. Narrated in four sections, The Book of Jamaica features a young New Hampshire college professor who moves to Jamaica to write a novel, becomes mesmerized with the island and its people, befriends the maroons, a group descended from runaway slaves and dedicated to maintaining their customs and traditions. Continental Drift, one of his most critically acclaimed novels, features two widely diverent characters: another New Hampshireite, oil-burner repairman Bob Dubois, who escapes his blue-collar life by relocating to Florida; and a Haitian woman, Vanise Dorsinville, who escapes her destitute, abusive, hopeless life in Haiti, emigrates to the United States, meets Bob on her way to Florida, and is cheated and betrayed at the hands of unscrupulous Americans. In Affliction (1990) Banks returns to the New Hampshire setting; highschool teacher Rolfe Whitehouse grapples with the disappearance of his older brother Wade. The


middle-aged Rolfe examines the devastating effects of his and his brother’s childhood abuse at the hands of a violent and alcoholic father. The Sweet Hereafter (1991) is set in upstate New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Using four narrators—school bus driver Delores Druscoll, garage owner Billy Ansel, New York attorney Mitchell Stevens, and teenager Nicole Burnell—the novel recreates the tragic school bus accident that killed 14 schoolchildren and changed the lives of the town’s survivors and inhabitants; each narrator examines his or her role in the tragedy. The Rule of the Bone (1995) has been described as a picaresque bildungsroman, a late-20th-century counterpart to Mark TWAIN’s Huck Finn and J. D. SALINGER’s Holden Caulfield. Like Huck, Chapman Dorset, called Chappie, leaves a miserable home and an abusive stepfather. He selects a skull-and-bones tattoo, renames himself Bone, and meets a homeless Rastafarian named I-Man. Together, like Huck and Jim, the two friends embark on a journey that ends up in a Jamaican commune. As Bone understands that he is marginalized in both countries, he turns his attention to his loved ones, and to the future, which may even include college. Russell Banks lives and writes in Princeton, New Jersey, where he taught at Princeton University until his retirement in 1998. His most recent novel is The Darling (2004). Two of Banks’s novels have been filmed, both in 1997: The Sweet Hereafter, directed by Atom Egoyan; and Affliction, directed by Paul Schrader and starring Nick Nolte, Willem Dafoe, Sissy Spacek, and James Coburn. He is currently at work on a screenplay of Jack KEROUAC’s ON THE ROAD, to be directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

NOVELS Affliction. New York: HarperCollins, 1990. The Book of Jamaica. Boston: Houghton, 1980. Cloudsplitter. New York: HarperCollins, 1998. Continental Drift. New York: Harper & Row, 1985. The Darling. New York: Ecco, 2004. Family Life. New York: Avon, 1975. Hamilton Stark. Boston: Houghton, 1978. The Relation of My Imprisonment. College Park, Md.: Sun & Moon, 1984. Rule of the Bone. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. The Sweet Hereafter. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

SOURCES Appleby, Joyce. “After Harpers Ferry,” Times Literary Supplement no. 4964, 22 May 1998, p.7. Baker, Phil. “A Small-Town Kid,” Times Literary Supplement no. 4813, 30 June 1995, p. 22. Benvenuto, Christine. “Mapping the Imagination: A Profile of Russell Banks.” Poets and Writers Magazine 26, no. 2 (March–April 1998): 20–27. Cotter, James Finn. Review of The Sweet Hereafter. America 116, no. 4157 (May 2, 1992): 391. Danziger, Jeff. “Small Town Tragedy,” Christian Science Monitor, 24 September 1991, p. 15. Eder, Richard. “Into the Night Sky: The Tale of a ModernDay Huck Finn,” Los Angeles Times Book Review, 21 May 1995, pp. 3, 7. Herron, Jerry. “American Anger and the Lost Art of Liking,” Georgia Review 50, no. 3 (Fall 1996): 609–615. Hill, Lawrence. “Gory, Gory, Hallelujah,” Maclean’s 111, no. 15 (April 13, 1998): 64. Hulbert, Ann. “Life on the Run.” New Republic, 29 May 1995, pp. 40–42. Kazin, Alfred. “God’s Own Terrorist.” New York Review of Books, 9 April 1998, pp. 8–9. Leckie, Ross. “Plot-Resistant Narrative and Russell Banks’s ‘Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat,’ ” Studies in Short Fiction 31, no. 3 (Summer 1994): 407–413. McPherson, James M. “A Fictional Portrait of John Brown,” Atlantic Monthly 281, no. 5 (May 1998): 124–129. Mesic, Penelope. “Adolescent Adrift: Russell Banks’ Remarkable Portrait of a Modern-Day Huck Finn,” Chicago Tribune Books, 11 June 1995, sec. 14, p. 3. Mosher, Howard Frank. “The Lost Children,” Washington Post Book World, 8 September 1991, pp. 3, 14. Niemi, Robert. Russell Banks. New York: Twayne, 1997. Peaco, Ed. Review of Rule of the Bone, by Russell Banks. Antioch Review 53, no. 4 (Fall 1995): 497–498. Rifkind, Donna. “A Town Divided,” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4646, 17 April 1992, p. 20.

OTHER HarperCollins. “Russell Banks Biography.” Available online. URL: http://www.harpercollins.com. Accessed May 27, 2005.

BARBARIANS ARE COMING, THE DAVID WONG LOUIE (2000) Following the highly acclaimed short-story collection, Pangs of Love (1991), this debut novel by David Wong Louie represents an in-depth


exploration of the theme of cultural assimilation. Critical opinion of The Barbarians Are Coming is generally very positive, praising Louie’s wit, humor, sensitivity, and insight. There is also, however, the sense that the superb narrative powers Louie exhibited in his short stories are somewhat strained under the weight of the extended form of the novel. Still, The Barbarians Are Coming is far from another typical story of the East-meets-West type of cultural conflict. Yes, it is that, but it promises much more: as David Wong Louie tells us on the Acknowledgments page, “[M]ore than anything else, this book is about family and love.” Its title taken from the name of a poem by Marilyn Chin, The Barbarians Are Coming is a story about fatherly love and its transformational powers. The firstperson narrative of Sterling Lung, a 26-year-old Chinese-American chef of French haute cuisine, is one filled with irreconcilable contradictions and disappointments. While his parents want him to be a doctor, he chooses to become a chef. “In their eyes I was a scoundrel, a dumb-as-dirt ingrate,” relates the narrator. “This was the reward for their sacrifice, leaving home for America, for lean lives among the barbarians, so I might enjoy penicillin and daily beef and be spared Mao and dreary collectivism” (28). Another rift between father and son is that as the sole male heir, Sterling is expected to preserve family tradition and ethnic identity by marrying Yuk, his picture bride from Hong Kong. Yet he is forced to marry his wealthy Jewish girlfriend after she becomes pregnant. Sterling’s father, sick and weary from a lifetime of backbreaking laundry work, is temporarily rejuvenated by the birth of a grandson who, though half “barbarian,” takes after him. Although the novel ends on a somber note with the death of Sterling’s father, precipitated by the loss of a second grandson, it promises new hopes for love and understanding between Sterling and his son. Despite the melancholy ending, The Barbarians Are Coming is also a work of boisterous humor, biting sarcasm, and dazzling verbal ingenuity. Sterling’s earthy, unassimilating parents are referred to throughout as Genius and Zsa Zsa, names mockingly conferred upon them by a mysterious white woman of Lung senior’s past. One of the funniest moments in the novel features a scene in which Sterling’s parents refuse to

believe that their son is a chef; they prefer to see in their son a doctor, dressed in his white uniform, supplemented by apron, side towel, and a full set of chef’s knives. We can get a glimpse of the bitter irony of Sterling’s Chinese-American life from the title of his Chinese cooking show on TV, The Peeking Duck. Trained as a French chef at America’s leading culinary school, Sterling is never fully accepted as the artiste that he is. Instead, his blooming career relies on his co-opting the personality of Hop Sing, the Chinese houseboy in Bonanza: “Evvy week I peek into you lifes!” (296). His empirical optimism aside—“One moment you’re blinded by heavy rain or snow, and in the next you can see again—each swipe an epiphany” (114), the view Sterling sees through the windshield of life may be forever clouded by visions of the castrated rooster he has cooked, “a nice capon” (5).

SOURCES Cacho, Lisa Marie. “Hunger and The Barbarians Are Coming,” Journal of Asian American Studies 3 (2000): 378–382. Chin, Marilyn. “The Barbarians Are Coming,” Ploughshares 16 (1990): 104. Eder, Richard. “Now We’re Cooking,” New York Times Book Review, 2 April 2000, pp. 8–9. Gogola, Tom. “Talking with David Wong Louie: Fictional Fusion Cuisine,” Newsday, 1 April 2000, p. B11. Sucher, Cheryl Pearl. “David Wong Louie: Traveling the Distance between Fathers and Sons,” Poets & Writers 28, no. 4 (2000): 48–53. Whiting, Sam. “Louie Spices Up the Mix in Barbarians,” San Francisco Chronicle, 30 March 2000, p. E1. Wiegand, David. “Sweet and Sour: Chinese American Chef’s Travails Serve as Rich Family Saga,” San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Review, 5 March 2000, p. 1. “Wong Deftly Uses Comedy to Tell Immigrant Family’s Sad Story,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11 March 2000, p. C2. Wenxin Li

BARNES, DJUNA (1892–1982) Djuna Barnes was one of many expatriate writers during the interwar years who crossed sexual, national, and artistic boundaries. Along with Gertrude STEIN, Anaïs NIN, H. D., and others, she lived in Paris in the 1920s. There she wrote two experimental novels, RYDER (1928) and NIGHTWOOD (1936), her best-known work, a stylistically intriguing account of a sexually mysterious woman and a transves-


tite, and an indictment of puritanical values. T. S. Eliot wrote the introduction to the first edition, and the novel found support among James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein. In the last few decades Barnes’s novels, poems, and plays have attracted increasing scholarly attention, particularly for their remappings of conventional gender representations. Barnes was born on June 12, 1892, in Cornwall-onHudson, New York, to the eccentric, rich, and promiscuous Wald Barnes and his English wife, Elizabeth Chappell Barnes. She died on June 18, 1982, on Patchin Place in Greenwich Village, where she had lived as a recluse for four decades. When Barnes was five years old, Fanny Faulkner, her father’s mistress, moved in with the family; when Barnes was 18, she married Percy, Fanny Faulkner’s brother, but the marriage lasted only two months and she returned home to the Long Island farm. In 1912 the entire family, sans mistress, moved to New York City, and Barnes began to write in order to help support her mother and three brothers. In 1921, after a marriage to Courtenay Lemon in 1917 and a divorce in 1919, Barnes became McCall’s correspondent in Paris. Her famed affair with the sculptor Thelma Wood became the basis for Nightwood with its protagonist, Robin Vote, the fictionalized version of Wood. Ryder is a thinly veiled novelistic account—although highly experimental in nature—of her own unorthodox family: Wendell Ryder, like Barnes’s father Wald, is sexually active and good at little else, including supporting the family. The novel satirizes middle-class hypocrisy and conventionality while it ridicules the thoughtless promiscuity of its protagonist. Ryder excited much controversy at the time of its publication, and included a foreword by Barnes herself that attacked censorship for the damage it inflicted on creativity and art. Barnes ceased writing after returning to New York and was supported largely by Natalie Clifford Barney, a lesbian and writer, and the art patron Peggy Guggenheim (Esposito, 21). Scholars continue to debate her place in the contexts of modernist, feminist, and lesbian American fiction, while writers as different as John HAWKES and Anaïs Nin claim her as a significant influence on their work (Esposito, 23). Barnes’s subjects were estrangement, female sexuality, the victim-

ization of females, and the isolation to which she herself succumbed. Her papers are housed in the McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland.

NOVELS Nightwood. London: Faber, 1936; New York: Harcourt, 1937. Ryder. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1928.

SOURCES Allen, Carolyn. Following Djuna: Women Lovers and the Erotics of Loss. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996. Barnes, Djuna. I Could Never Be Lonely without a Husband. Edited by Alyce Barry. New York: Virago, 1987. Interviews conducted by Barnes. Barnes, Djuna. Interviews. Edited by Alyce Barry. Washington, D.C.: Sun Moon, 1985. Interviews conducted by Barnes. Beach, Sylvia. Shakespeare and Company. New York: Harcourt, 1959. Benstock, Shari. Women of the Left Bank: Paris, 1900–1940. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986. Broe, Mary Lynn, ed. Silence and Power: A Reevaluation of Djuna Barnes. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991. Esposito, Carmen. “Djuna Barnes (Lydia Steptoe).” In American Women Writers, 1900–1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Laurie Champion, 20–24. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000. Field, Andrew. Djuna: The Life and Times of Djuna Barnes. New York: Putnam, 1983. Rev. ed. published as Djuna: The Formidable Miss Barnes. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985. Galvin, Mary E. Queer Poetics: Five Modernist Women Writers. Greenwich, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998. Herring, Philip. Djuna: The Life and Work of Djuna Barnes. New York: Viking Press, 1995. Kannestine, Louis B. The Art of Djuna Barnes: Duality and Damnation. New York: New York University Press, 1977. O’Neal, Hank. “Life Is Painful, Nasty, and Short—In My Case It Has Only Been Painful and Nasty”: Djuna Barnes, 1978–1981: An Informal Memoir. New York: Paragon House, 1990. Plumb, Cheryl. Fancy’s Craft: Art and Identity in the Early Works of Djuna Barnes. Selinsgrove, Pa.: Susquehanna University Press, 1987. Scott, James. Djuna Barnes. Boston: Twayne, 1976.

BARRACKS THIEF, THE TOBIAS WOLFF (1984) Recognized for his memoir This Boy’s Life, Tobias WOLFF has written one novella, The Barracks


Thief, which won the prestigious PEN Faulkner Prize as the most distinguished work of fiction in 1985. A Vietnam story set entirely in the United States, The Barracks Thief is a compelling drama that explores themes of isolation and conformity. Its protagonist is Philip Bishop, a young army recruit who is undergoing his military training. The Barracks Thief is notable for its changes in point of view. It begins with an omniscient narrative in which Philip’s father is introduced first. The father is about to leave the family due to an extramarital affair, and Wolff suggests a cause-and-effect relationship between his departure and subsequent events that affect Philip’s home life and his life in the service. A few pages into the novel, Wolff shifts the narrative and establishes Philip, the older of two brothers, as the point-of-view character. Crushed that his father would abandon his family and frustrated by his own lack of identity, Philip decides to leave his mother and brother and their home in Washington State to enlist in the army. Chapters 2 to 4 are narrated in the first person, using Philip’s voice. After paratrooper training in Georgia, Philip is dispatched to an army base in North Carolina. There he finds many soldiers who have already returned from tours in Vietnam, soldiers who treat Philip and the other new enlistees, Hubbard and Lewis, with contempt. Although Philip seeks Hubbard’s friendship, he is more wary of Lewis, a braggart with a low IQ. When the three greenhorns are assigned to guard an ammunition dump 30 miles from the base on the Fourth of July, a near disaster becomes a pivotal moment. Ordered by their sergeant to shoot trespassers and remain at their post regardless of circumstances, the three soon face a dilemma. Errant fireworks have ignited a forest fire that threatens to envelop the ammo dump. Sirens wail and local sheriffs soon arrive to implore the men to vacate the site. Lewis is the first to cock and aim his rifle at the sheriff, followed by the normally mild-mannered Hubbard, as Philip hangs back and observes the incident until the sheriff leaves the scene. Only through a last-minute change in the wind is a catastrophe avoided. The incident serves to bond the three new soldiers. The bond lasts only a short while, however. A few days after the July 4 incident, while Lewis is on KP

(kitchen patrol) duty, Philip and Hubbard join other platoon members in guarding the base during a war protest. At first the demonstration is peaceful, but soon the protestors begin to taunt the soldiers. Under orders to remain calm, some soldiers begin to yell back. One soldier moves forward from his formation, a menacing gesture that threatens to provoke a bloody altercation. Then, just as quickly, their superiors restore order, and local police disperse the crowd. Like the incident at the ammunition dump, the confrontation allows Philip to feel a sense of unity with the other men in the platoon. That night at dinner when Lewis asks Philip to see a Bob Hope movie with him, Philip turns him down, and Lewis decides to head into town by himself. Soon after that night, the barracks is hit by a mysterious string of thefts. At this point, the beginning of chapter 5, in a daring move, Wolff begins to tell the story from Lewis’s point of view. Due to Lewis’s limited intelligence, Wolff employs a third-person omniscient narrative. To emphasize that Lewis is more sensual than intellectual and that he lives in the moment, Wolff also changes from past-to present-tense narration. Although Lewis has bragged of his past sexual conquests, he is actually a virgin, and the reader follows him as he makes trips to town in search of a woman before finding a past-herprime prostitute. To pay the prostitute Lewis begins to steal money from men in his platoon, most notably Hubbard, his former friend. This chapter ends when Lewis is exposed as the thief during a routine inspection. By changing perspective, Wolff succeeds in winning empathy for an ignorant, unsympathetic character. In the final two chapters Philip’s first-person narration resumes. Chapter 6 begins with a replay of the inspection scene when Lewis is caught and excoriated, because, the first sergeant has told them, an infantry company is like family, and they can’t turn their backs on their own kind. Before being discharged, Lewis is attacked and severely beaten late one night by others in his platoon. In typical fashion, Philip resists the urge to participate in the assault, but watches the incident and then fails to alert his superiors. Appearing after two successful collections of stories—In the Garden of the North American Martyrs and Back in the World—The Barracks Thief reflects many of Wolff’s strengths as a short-story writer: vivid characters,


authentic dialogue, and simplicity of language. Wolff is eloquent in pinpointing and reporting the revealing detail, which he uses to illuminate setting and character. His dextrous manipulation of point of view and his examination of the moral dilemmas of military life and male friendship make The Barracks Thief powerful and compelling despite its brevity.

SOURCES Hornby, Nick. “Tobias Wolff.” In Contemporary American Fiction, 133–150. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Kendrick, Walter. “Men with Rifles,” New York Times, 2 June 1985, pp. 42–43. Lyons, Bonnie, and Bill Oliver. “An Interview with Tobias Wolff,” Contemporary Literature 31 (1990): 1–16. Scofield, Martin. “Winging It: Realism and Invention in the Stories of Tobias Wolff.” In Yearbook of English Studies: North American Short Stories and Short Fictions 31 (2001): 93–108. Wolff, Tobias. The Barracks Thief. New York: Ecco Press, 1984. Bill Grattan

BARRETT, ANDREA (ANDREA BARRETT FULLER) (1964– ) Andrea Barrett is admired for the way that she unites art and science. Winner of the 1996 National Book Award for Ship Fever, and Other Stories, and a 2003 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her collection Servants of the Map: Stories (2002), Barrett has also written five critically well-received novels, including The VOYAGE OF THE NARWHAL (1998). Although her four earlier novels are concerned with the complexity and fragility of family relationships, it is, interestingly, the last—The Voyage of the Narwhal— that successfully reflects Barrett’s scientific background. Andrea Barrett was born on November 16, 1964, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Walter Barrett and Jacquelyn Knifong. She was educated at Union College where she earned a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1985. Biology, along with Barrett’s graduate studies in zoology and medieval and Renaissance theological history, provided her with much of her subject matter. Her first novel, Lucid Stars (1988), chronicles the dissolution of a family; it focuses on Penny Webb, whose marriage to her sequentially adulterous husband, Benjamin Day, ends in divorce.

Webb is a student of astronomy and views her extended family as astronomical bodies shifting in space. In Secret Harmonies (1989) Reba Dwyer escapes life with her docile, submissive brother Hank and her handicapped sister Tonia, only to find that neither the women’s conservatory she briefly entered nor the marriage that quickly bored her, provide answers to her elusive quest for happiness. Similarly, in The Middle Kingdom (1991), the unhappy Grace Hoffmeier moves to Beijing, China, where her husband finds a new mistress as Hoffmeier lies ill with pneumonia in a hospital. Grace recovers, finds a job and a new lover, and decides to remain in Beijing. In The Forms of Water (1993), Barrett uses the Faulknerian device of an aging patriarch, Brendon Auberon, and his nephew, Henry; they ride off in a stolen wheelchair to revisit the monastery where Brendon lived during his days as a monk. The family tries to capture Brendon, as they recall the events that led to the breakdown of their family. The Voyage of the Narwhal (1998) follows botanist Erasmus Darwin Wells and his sister’s inexperienced and reckless fiancé on a polar expedition to recover the bodies of explorers lost on a previous trek to the North Pole. When they return to Philadelphia, the hardships of the polar drama are juxtaposed against the sometimes engulfing publicity they face. As Peter Kurth has noted, the success of the “eloquent” and “thoughtful” Voyage of the Narwhal contradicted the notion that “serious fiction” could not exist “outside the realm of mass appeal” (Kurth interview). Andrea Barrett continues to write in Rochester, New York, where she lives with her husband, Barry Goldstein, three cats, and a dog. She teaches in the master of fine arts program at Warren Wilson College.

NOVELS The Forms of Water. New York: Pocket Books, 1993. Lucid Stars. New York: Dell, 1988. The Middle Kingdom. New York: Pocket Books, 1991. Secret Harmonies. New York: Delacorte, 1989. The Voyage of the Narwhal. New York: Norton, 1998.

SOURCES Balée, Susan. “Victorian Voyages and Other Mind Trips,” Hudson Review 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 167–172.


McGraw, Erin. “Nor Good Red Herring: Novellas and Stories,” Georgia Review 50, no. 4 (Winter 1996): 808–818.

OTHER Birnbaum, Robert. “Interview: Andrea Barrett.” identitytheory.com. Available online. URL: http://www.identitytheory. com/people/birnbaum35.html. Accessed May 27, 2005. Kurth, Peter. [The Salon Interview] Andrea Barrett. Salon. com. Available online. URL: http://archive.salon.com/ books/int/1998/12/cov_02inta.html. Accessed August 22, 2005.

BARTH, JOHN (SIMMONS) (1930– ) John Barth, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and theorist, first appeared on the literary scene with the 1956 publication of The Floating Opera, followed two years later by The End of the Road. His fascination with the paradoxes, inadequacies, and comic possibilities of language is apparent in his innovative approach to writing fiction. Barth, considered the major voice of postmodern fiction, uses the language of myth and allegory, of history and comedy, to convey his own reality—a reality that fluctuates according to the way he uses his words. The irrationality of the world is demonstrated in his longer and increasingly postmodern novels—The Sot-Weed Factor (1960), Giles GoatBoy; or, The Revised New Syllabus (1966), and Letters (1979)—all of which reflect Barth’s intense awareness of the artificial nature of fiction. As a fabulator (a name bestowed on Barth by critic Robert Scholes in The Fabulators, his 1967 study of contemporary writers), Barth believes that writers cannot return to the methods of traditional fiction, that is, plot, theme, and so on; instead, he uses his love of the epistolary novel, Western mythology, and early American literature, to create his innovative departures, parodies, and self-reflexive questions about the ways to tell a tale. Barth is famously associated with his August 1967, Atlantic Monthly article, “The Literature of Exhaustion,” which announces the death of the older forms of fiction and the impossibility of achieving novelty through any of those techniques. Barth was born on May 27, 1930, in Cambridge, Maryland, to John Jacob and Georgia Simmons Barth. Reared in the Tidewater region, Barth has an affinity with Maryland that is noticeable in all his fiction. He

married Harriete Anne Strickland on January 11, 1950, then earned both his B.A., in 1951, and M.A. in creative writing, in 1952, from Johns Hopkins University. Although he embarked on a professorial career that included posts at the Pennsylvania State University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the Johns Hopkins University, Barth wrote both The Floating Opera and The End of the Road in one year, 1955. The Floating Opera, a first-person narrative of Todd Andrews about a day in 1937 when he decides not to commit suicide, was nominated for the National Book Award. The narrator of The End of the Road, Jacob Horner, has been involved in a sexual triangle and must choose one of a variety of unappealing options. Like Todd Andrews, who ultimately sees no reason for dying—but no reason for living, either—Jacob Horner comprehends that neither the rational nor the pessimistic view can explain an unpredictable world. With The Sot-Weed Factor, Barth delved deeper into his postmodern concerns, parodying an 18th-century novel. He writes fiction about Ebenezer Cook, a colonial Maryland poet who actually lived. Barth undermines and satirizes a good deal of American history, a history that he believes was often distorted, if not actually fictionalized. He continues to play with language and reality in his next novel, an allegory, Giles Goat-Boy; or, The Revised New Syllabus, and this time the objects of his satire are components of Western culture—the Bible, Sophocles, and the cold war. Here, the university is a metaphor for the world. The comic Goat-Boy (who was born of a computer and a virgin) and his attempts to educate himself appealed to the public, and Barth enjoyed his first popular success. Barth’s next work, Chimera (1972), consisting of three novellas, won the 1973 National Book Award. Each novella focuses on a different classic: Scheherazade of A Thousand and One Nights, and Perseus and Bellerophon, both from Greek mythology, and Barth successfully demonstrates that, despite the “exhaustion” of traditional forms, the postmodern writer can still use a new perspective on old stories to create meaningful new ones. Chimera was followed in 1979 by Letters, a book that most critics agree is his “longest and most demanding” (Fogel and Slethaug, 4). An epistolary novel divided into seven sections, it reintroduces themes and characters


from his earlier work, including Todd Andrews, Jacob Horner, Ebenezer Cook, and others, who write letters not only to each other but to Barth himself, who is also a character. His next two paired novels, Sabbatical: A Romance (1982) and The Tidewater Tales: A Novel (1987), contain some of the same characters and themes. In Sabbatical, Fenwick Turner, a novelist, and his wife, Susan Seckler, a professor, sail to the Caribbean and back to Chesapeake Bay, pondering literary topics and worrying about such organizations as the C.I.A. In Tidewater Tales, Peter and Katherine Sherritt Sagamore sail on their boat named “Story,” telling tales to each other. In both novels we find the Barth approach: create the story and invent the fiction that is always aware that the story is only a story. Stan Fogel and Gordon Slethaug have pointed out that Barth divides contemporary writers into two camps: in the traditional group are Saul BELLOW, John UPDIKE, and Joseph HELLER, while he himself is firmly planted in the postmodern camp along with William GASS, John HAWKES, and Donald BARTHELME. With his insistence that readers dislodge themselves from old perspectives and focus on both the teller and the tale, his experimentation has contributed enormously to the postmodern canon. Now retired from teaching, he lives in Maryland with his second wife, Shelly Rosenberg, whom he married in 1971 after his 1969 divorce from his first wife. His manuscript collection is housed at the Library of Congress.

NOVELS Chimera. New York: Random House, 1972. The End of the Road. New York: Doubleday, 1958. Rev. ed., New York: Doubleday, 1967. The Floating Opera. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1956. Rev. ed., New York: Doubleday, 1967. Giles Goat-Boy; or, The Revised New Syllabus. New York, Doubleday, 1966. The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor. Boston: Little, Brown, 1991. Letters. New York: Putnam, 1979. Once Upon a Time: A Floating Opera. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994. Sabbatical: A Romance. New York: Putnam, 1982. The Sot-Weed Factor. New York: Doubleday, 1960. Rev. ed. New York: Doubleday, 1967. The Tidewater Tales: A Novel. New York: Putnam, 1987.

SOURCES Bowen, Zack. A Reader’s Guide to John Barth. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Fogel, Stan, and Gordon Slethaug. Understanding John Barth. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1990. Harris, Charles B. Passionate Virtuosity: The Fiction of John Barth. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983. Joseph, Gerhard. John Barth. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1970. Morrell, David. John Barth: An Introduction. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1976. Scholes, Robert. The Fabulators. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967. Stark, John O. The Literature of Exhaustion: Borges, Nabokov, and Barth. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1974. Tharpe, Jac. John Barth: The Comic Sublimity of Paradox. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1974. Waldmeir, Joseph J., ed. Critical Essays on John Barth. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980. Walkiewicz, E. P. John Barth. Boston: Twayne, 1986. Ziegler, Heide. John Barth. London: Methuen, 1987.

OTHER John Barth: The Information Center. Available online. URL: http://www.dave-edelman.com/barth/index.cfm. Accessed July 15, 2005. Mahoney, Blair. “John Barth.” The Modern Word: Scriptorium. Available online. URL: http://www.themodernword. com/scriptorium/barth.html. Accessed July 15, 2005. New York Times Books. Featured Author: John Barth. Available online. URL: http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/06/ 21/specials/barth.html. Accessed July 15, 2005.

BARTHELME, DONALD (1931–1989) Donald Barthelme, one of the foremost postmodernist writers of the 20th century, made his name primarily as the author of more than 100 short stories, many of which first appeared in the New Yorker before their publication in many collections of short fiction. He won both the PEN/Faulkner Award (1982) and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Sixty Stories (1981). He also wrote novels, including SNOW WHITE (1967) and The Dead Father (1975), and won a National Book Award for The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine; or, The Hithering Thithering Djinn (1971), a book for children. Central to Barthelme’s short and long fiction is the almost despairing sense of the shabby, desiccated, superficial


modern world; always, however, the despair is softened by the humor and absurdity that Barthelme sees in 20th-century urban life. Using bits, scraps, and fragments from the detritus of contemporary culture, Barthelme writes innovative fiction, deliberately deemphasizing theme, plot, and character. Although he clearly addresses our need to communicate, Barthelme plays with and mocks language: Scholar and critic Lois Gordon points out that Snow White “runs the gamut of styles from the prose of social science and philosophy to that of comic books, cartoons, and film, from the language of business and technology to that of advertising and hip lingo, from flat, vulgar street talk to inflated political, academic, and even church diction” (Gordon, 26). Donald Barthelme was born on April 7, 1931, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Donald Barthelme, an architect who became a professor at the University of Houston, and Helen Bechtold Barthelme. When he was two years old, the family moved to Houston, Texas. Barthelme briefly attended the University of Houston, worked as a Houston Post reporter, and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1953 to serve at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and in Korea and Japan. His move to New York City in 1962 signaled a complete change for Barthelme: he published his first short story, “L’Lapse,” in the New Yorker in 1963 and remained in the city for the rest of his life. But it was in Snow White that Barthelme made one of his most frequently quoted comments about the “trash” of modern culture—that it “may very well soon reach a point where it’s 100 percent” (139). In this parody of the Grimms’ fairy tale, Snow White tries desperately to redefine herself and realize her potential. She is an archetypal Barthelme character: a college-educated, black pajama-wearing 1960s parody who cooks, cleans, and provides regular sex for seven men. In The Dead Father, Barthelme again uses popular song lyrics and advertising slogans to exaggerate a burial march where the sons carry their father’s dead body. The corpse can still speak, chase women, and exercise powerful control over his sons. The King, a novel that presents the King Arthur legend as a World War II farcical quest for the atomic bomb, instead of the Holy Grail, was posthumously published in 1990.

Although Barthelme died of cancer in Houston in 1989, his reputation as a postmodernist, minimalist, metafictionalist, humorist, and social critic, continues to rise. Scholarly books and articles on his works encourage a new generation of readers to discover the often sly humor Barthelme used to unmask the vacuity of our daily lives.

NOVELS The Dead Father. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1975. The King. New York: Harper, 1990. Snow White. New York: Atheneum, 1967.

SOURCES Bellamy, Joe David, ed. The New Fiction: Interviews with Innovative American Writers. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1974. Couturier, Maurice, and Regis Durand. Donald Barthelme. New York: Methuen Press, 1982. Dickstein, Morris. Gates of Eden: American Culture in the Sixties. New York: Basic Books, 1977. Gilman, Richard. The Confusion of Realms. New York: Random House, 1969. Gordon, Lois. Donald Barthelme. Boston: Twayne, 1981. Hicks, Jack. In the Singer’s Temple: Prose Fictions of Barthelme, Gaines, Brautigan, Piercy, Kesey, and Kosinski. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981. Kazin, Alfred. Bright Book of Life: American Novelists and Story Tellers from Hemingway to Mailer. New York: Atlantic/Little, Brown, 1973. Klinkowitz, Jerome. The American 1960s: Imaginative Arts in a Decade of Change. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1980. ———. Literary Disruptions: The Making of a Post-Contemporary American Fiction. 2d ed. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1980. ———. The Self-Apparent Word: Fiction as Language/Language as Fiction. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984. ———. Donald Barthelme: An Exhibition. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991. Maltby, Paul. Dissident Postmodernists: Barthelme, Coover, Pynchon. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991. McCaffery, Larry. The Metafictional Muse: The Works of Robert Coover, Donald Barthelme, and William H. Gass. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982. Molesworth, Charles. Donald Barthelme’s Fiction: The Ironist Saved from Drowning. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1982.


Patteson, Richard F., ed. Critical Essays on Donald Barthelme. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1992. Scholes, Robert. Fabulation and Metafiction. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1971. Stengel, Wayne B. The Shape of Art in the Short Stories of Donald Barthelme. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985. Trachtenberg, Stanley. Understanding Donald Barthelme. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1990.

BASS, RICK (1958– ) A short-story, novella, and nature writer who passionately combines art and activism, Rick Bass published his first novel, Where the Sea Used to Be, in 1998. A petroleum geologist by training, Bass began writing stories and tales that earned him the PEN/Nelson Algren Award Special Citation in 1988. He has produced 17 books in 18 years, including two volumes of novellas, two collections of short stories and both fiction and nonfiction tales and essays. He has also published scores of articles, the majority of them about Montana, his adopted home. Born on March 7, 1958, in Fort Worth, Texas, Rick Bass is the son of C. R. Bass, an oil geologist, and Mary Lucy Robson Bass, a schoolteacher. Although reared in Texas, Bass studied at Utah State University, earned his bachelor of science degree in 1979, and worked as a geologist in Jackson, Mississippi, before he discovered the pristine majesty of the Yaak Valley in Montana. As he read and admired the works of Edward Abbey, Jim HARRISON, Tom McGuane, Barry HANNAH, and Eudora WELTY, Bass became interested in writing himself, publishing The Deer Pasture in 1985. Platte River, a volume of three novellas that chronicle and celebrate men at various phases in their lives, has earned Bass comparisons with Jack LONDON and Ernest HEMINGWAY. In Mahatma Joe, for instance, set in Alaska, an outsider enters the valley with the intent of converting the residents who celebrate “Naked Days” every summer, but, in the end, one wonders who has changed more significantly, the valley folk or the evangelist. The title story contains a Nick Adams-like protagonist who becomes more self-aware through fishing in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. The Sky, The Stars, The Wilderness (1997) contains three more novellas, all of which examine and celebrate the mysteries of the human relationship to animals and the land.

With his novel Where the Sea Used to Be, Bass uses Montana as a stage on which his geologist, oil driller, wolf tracker, and naturalist characters have opposite mindsets—capitalism versus preservationism, and the need to control versus the wish to live and let live. Bass continues to live in the Yaak Valley with his wife, artist Elizabeth Hughes, whom he married in 1991. His collected papers, including manuscripts and notebooks, are housed in the Lubbock Southwest Collection at the Special Collections Library, Southwest Texas State University.

NOVELS AND NOVELLAS Platte River. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1994. The Sky, The Stars, The Wilderness. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1997. Where the Sea Used to Be. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, 1998.

SOURCES Thomas J. Lyon. “Teaching and Learning: An Appreciation of Rick Bass and His Writing.” In The Literary Art and Activism of Rick Bass, edited by Alan O. Weltzien, 19–23. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2001. Weltzien, Alan O. Rick Bass. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 1998. ———, ed. The Literary Art and Activism of Rick Bass. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2001.

BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA DOROTHY ALLISON (1992) During a Penguin Online Auditorium conversation with college students in 1999, Dorothy ALLISON described her novel Bastard Out of Carolina as a “story about a working class family, people who are trying very hard to take loving care of each other and who are failing again and again.” Living in rural Greenville, South Carolina, in the 1950s, this family consists of Anney Boatwright; her second husband, Glen Waddell; her two daughters, Ruth Anne and Reese; and a host of beer-drinking, shotgun-toting uncles and aunts who marry young, have many children, and age before their time. Allison’s focus in this mix of characters is Ruth Anne, nicknamed Bone, and “certified a Bastard by the State of Carolina” (Penguin Online, 3). Bone narrates incidents about her family with an observant eye and an understanding of human behavior beyond her years, as she struggles to discover the way her mother’s upbringing affects her own role as


a Boatwright. “Family is family, but even love can’t keep people from eating at each other,” Bone says. Despite her understanding of her family history, Bone has trouble placing herself within it because she “didn’t look like anybody at all” (30). Her search for a stronger sense of identity becomes a significant theme of the novel as Bone increasingly yearns for a different, less oppressive future than her mother’s. She hopes to rise above the poverty that causes much of the instability in her family, and she wants choices for her future. Bone’s future happiness is curtailed, however, by her stepfather, “Daddy Glen.” Glen is obsessive over Bone’s mother, Anney, and jealous of the attention she pays her girls. One aunt says of Glen, “He loves [Anney] like a gambler loves a fast racehorse or a desperate man loves whiskey. That kind of love eats a man up” (41). While there is plenty of evidence to suggest to Bone (and readers) that Glen is trouble, Anney can see no wrong in him. Bone says of her mother, who lost her first husband in an accident, “She wanted someone strong to love her like she loved her girls” (10). Anney gets her man, but at a severe cost when Glen begins to take out his aggressions on Bone. Being told by others that she lacks the beauty of her mother and other Boatwright women in their youth, Bone already feels ugly and uncomfortable in her skin when Daddy Glen routinely abuses her physically and sexually. Critic Brenda Boudreau explains that Bone’s body “reflects various cultural attitudes and values about the body, as well as being constructed by them; her body becomes a literal battlefield, the target for, and a means of, humiliation and control, particularly by men” (Boudreau, 45). Glen first molests Bone in his truck outside the hospital while Anney is having his child. When the baby boy dies, Glen turns to drinking and tries to isolate Anney and the girls from the rest of the family. He becomes steadily more abusive toward Bone as he moves the family from one house to the next, just ahead of the bill collectors. Feeling that the abuse she receives is her fault because she is ugly, or because “there was something I was doing wrong, something terrible,” Bone does not tell Anney about her increasingly more violent and more sexual encounters with Glen. Instead, she waits patiently for her

mother’s love and loyalty toward her to win out over her feelings for Glen. While Anney does leave Glen on a number of occasions, she always returns to him, providing a limited model for Bone, Boudreau says, that shows she is “destined to be used by the men around her” (52). With each passing year, Bone’s resentment toward Glen and, increasingly, toward Anney continues to build, and her feelings are further complicated by her changing body. For Bone, adolescence is especially painful emotionally, a place of shame instead of wonder because of the more frequent abuse she suffers from Glen. During this time, Bone repeatedly masturbates to fantasies of death and violence. She imagines Glen beating her while others look on, and she is ashamed of the rush of sexual excitement these images bring. Bone also finds relief from the horrors of her home life through telling gruesome, made-up stories to the neighborhood children, living with various aunts for months at a time, and escaping into the soothing sounds of gospel music and the attention she gains for wanting to be saved in the 14 different Baptist churches she attends. She cannot, however, escape the evidence of Glen’s abuse, nor Anney’s protection of him, forever. When Bone’s Aunt Raylene discovers the girl’s bruises from a recent beating, Anney insists Glen loves Bone and would never hurt her. Wanting to please her mother, Bone agrees that this latest round of abuse was her fault, that she made Glen mad. After this incident, Anney goes with Bone to live with her Aunt Alma who has just lost a baby, but she begins to retreat emotionally from Bone. Sensing once and for all where her mother’s loyalties lie, Bone decides she will not return to Daddy Glen’s house should Anney choose to return there, as she soon does. When Bone finally stands up to Glen at age 13, her actions lead to a final, violent and shocking confrontation. The scene becomes an ultimate test of family love and loyalty when Anney witnesses Glen’s brutality and sees him as the abuser Bone has known all along. The choice Anney next makes is not surprising, considering a family history of women who always return to their men, but in the moment of abandonment, Bone discovers the identity she has been seeking: “I was who


I was going to be, someone like her, like Mama, a Boatwright woman” (309). While the novel ends with Bone’s new sense of identity, one can argue that Bone embraces her identity throughout the novel. Critic Renee R. Curry suggests that Bone claims her identity, her “I,” by simply telling her story. As an incest survivor, Bone’s perspective is an important one in our society. She is evidence that, as Curry says, “Girls do not live innocently, and they do not narrate the world innocently when they are allowed to narrate. Furthermore, they will point to the lack of innocence in others” (103). In discussing Bone as a narrator, Allison adds that she is “a particular kind of wise adolescent narrator. She’s not a trustworthy narrator. She genuinely doesn’t understand some of the things that happen; she’s secretive, she deliberately misunderstands and misrepresents some of what she can’t stand” (Penguin Online). What emerges from this narration, however, is a treatment of incest and family violence that Allison says she had never seen expressed in other novels. “The people I most want to read this book are adolescents in crisis,” Allison explains (Penguin Online), people who can relate to Bone’s “enormous anger and contempt for herself” and come to realize that what happens to Bone is not her fault.

SOURCES Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina. New York: Plume, 1992. Baker, Moira Press. “The Politics of They: Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina as Critique of Class, Gender, and Sexual Ideologies.” In The World Is Our Culture: Society and Culture in Contemporary Southern Writing, edited by Jeffrey J. Folks and Nancy Summers, 117–141. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000. Boudreau, Brenda. “The Battleground of the Adolescent Girl’s Body.” In The Girl: Construction of the Girl in Contemporary Fiction by Women, edited by Ruth O. Saxton, 43–56. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998. Curry, Renee R. “ ‘I Ain’t No Friggin’ Little Wimp’: The Girl Narrator in Contemporary Fiction.” In The Girl: Construction of the Girl in Contemporary Fiction by Women, edited by Ruth O. Saxton, 95–105. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998. Gilmore, Leigh. The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001.

Gwin, Minrose. “Nonfelicitous Space and Survivor Discourse: Reading the Incest Story in Southern Women’s Fiction.” In Haunted Bodies: Gender and Southern Texts, edited by Anne Goodwyn Jones and Susan V. Donaldson, 416–440. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997. Penguin Online Auditorium. “Chat with Dorothy Allison.” November 9, 1999. (Web site restricted to members.) Sandell, Jillian. “Telling Stories of ‘Queer White Trash’: Race, Class, and Sexuality in the Work of Dorothy Allison.” In White Trash: Race and Class in America, edited by Matt Wray and Annalee Newitz, 211–230. New York: Routledge, 1997. Hayley Mitchell Haugen

BAUSCH, RICHARD (CARL) (1945– ) Richard Bausch is the author of nine novels, two of which were nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award, and two short-story collections. He writes of American families experiencing problems with alcohol and aging, dashed hopes and desperation, turmoil and tragedy. He writes from neither an autobiographical nor a regional perspective; unlike a number of novelists identified with a specific place, Bausch focuses on story and character. His novels include Take Me Back (1981) and Violence (1992). Richard Bausch, one of twin boys, was born on April 18, 1945, at Fort Benning, Georgia, to Robert Carl Bausch and Helen Simmons Bausch. He and his twin Robert grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, and enlisted in the air force from 1965 to 1969. They eventually became the only identical twin novelists in the United States. Bausch married Karen Miller, a photographer, in 1969, and, having decided to become a writer, earned a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University in 1974, and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1975. He published his first novel, The Real Presence, in 1980, the story of an aging priest, Monsignor Vincent Shepherd, in a new parish in West Virginia. There he ministers to an impoverished couple, Duck and Elizabeth Bexley, and their children. When Duck dies, the monsignor realizes that he wishes to become the father to the Bexley children, so he decides to leave the priesthood. Take Me Back (1981) uses alternating perspectives to convey


disintegrating alliances, which result in adultery and attempted suicide. Among the characters are Gordon Brinhart, an alcoholic insurance salesman, his wife, Katherine, and her son, Alex, born of a previous relationship. Bausch’s third novel, The Last Good Time (1984), focuses on 75-year-old Edward Cakes and 89year-old hospitalized Arthur Hagood, whose friendship ruptures over Edward’s affair with 24-year-old Mary Virginia Bellini. Edward ends up with an elderly woman in his apartment building. Similarly Mr. Field’s Daughter (1989) dramatizes the upheaval in a peaceful extended family when James Field’s granddaughter’s husband, Cole Gilbertson, disturbs the status quo with a .22 pistol and the cocaine that he habitually uses. Violence, Bausch’s fifth novel, focuses on Charles Connally, who becomes a hero after interceding during a holdup in a Chicago convenience store; in the aftermath of the violence, Charles loses his grip on his identity, drops out of college and leaves his wife. Rebel Powers (1993) continues to examine marital relationships, focusing on Connie’s deteriorating marriage to Vietnam veteran Daniel Boudreaux, and Good Evening Mr. & Mrs. America, and All the Ships at Sea: A Novel (1996) focuses on the disenchantment of 19-year-old Wyoming resident Walter Marshall after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the Night Season: A Novel (1998) is a chilling study of evil; the sympathetic relationship between recently widowed Nora Michaelson, who is white, and Edward Bishop, who is black, spirals out of control into bigotry, hatred, and murder. In Hello to the Cannibals (2002), Bausch’s most recent novel, the author entwines the fictional story of Lily, a strong 20th-century American woman mired in a hopelessly depressing marriage, and the historically factual Mary Kingsley, the 19th-century British explorer, social anthropologist, and writer. In her review of Hello to the Cannibals, novelist Janet Burroway suggests that the cannibals of the title “are not so much the dignified exotics Mary Kingsley encounters in Gabon, as our familiar siblings, lovers, parents and children in their devouring attachment” (Burroway, 27). Richard Bausch, a professor at George Mason University, lives with his wife in Broad Run, Virginia. He and his brother, a professor at North Virginia Community College as well as a novelist, occasionally hold public readings together.

NOVELS Good Evening Mr. & Mrs. America, and All the Ships at Sea: A Novel. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Hello to the Cannibals. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. In the Night Season. New York: HarperCollins, 1998. The Last Good Time. New York: Dial, 1984. Mr. Field’s Daughter. New York: Linden Press/Simon & Schuster, 1989. The Real Presence. New York: Dial, 1980. Rebel Powers. New York: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, 1993. Take Me Back. New York: Dial, 1981. Violence. New York: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, 1992.

SOURCES Burroway, Janet. “In Mary’s footsteps: Richard Bausch’s heroine falls under the spell of a 19th-century traveler,” New York Times Book Review, 8 September 2002, p. 27. Matuz, Roger, ed. Contemporary Southern Writers. Detroit: St. James Press, 1999.

BAXTER, CHARLES (MORLEY) (1947– ) Charles Baxter, whom critics have hailed as an heir to such Midwest novelists as Willa CATHER, has published four short-story collections and four critically acclaimed novels, First Light (1987), Shadow Play (1993), The Feast of Love (2000), and Saul and Patsy (2003), as well as the novella in the collection entitled Believers (1997). Speaking of the “blandness” of the midwestern landscape and the “reticence of its inhabitants,” Baxter said that he “would put Midwestern writers such as Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Willa Cather against those of almost any area—except maybe the South—for the depth of their writing. If you write about the Midwest, you have to dig in order to find what motivates the characters you’re writing about, the people you observe” (Atlantic Unbound interview). Charles Baxter was born on May 13, 1947, in Minneapolis, to John Thomas Baxter and Mary Barber Eaton Baxter. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College in 1969, Baxter earned a doctoral degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1974, and married Martha Ann Hauser, a teacher, in 1976. He combined a long career as a college professor with writing fiction, and created the fictional town of


Five Oaks in Michigan, the state he has called home for more than a quarter of a century. First Light, Baxter’s debut novel, attracted attention because of its unique structure: Beginning with a well-known dictum of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard—that “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards,” the novel begins on the Fourth of July with the uneasy relationship between Hugh Welch and his sister Dorothy, and progresses backward to reveal the earlier, formative events in their lives. In Shadow Play, a novel frequently compared to Shirley JACKSON’s “The Lottery,” Wyatt Palmer’s arrested emotional development grows from his childhood experiences, a panoply of shadowy evils that lurk on the outskirts of sunlit America. Baxter’s finely honed stylistic precision has been the source of much approbation from readers and critics alike. The Feast of Love is a highly praised study of the various forms of love offered up to a character named Charles Baxter as material for a novel: The novel explores the humanity of the neighbor character and of the wives of his two marriages. Charles Baxter retired from the University of Michigan, where he was a professor of English, and has been adjunct professor of creative writing since then. He lives with his wife in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has just published Saul and Patsy, his fourth novel. His literary achievements have been celebrated by the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature in 1997; in 2000, Baxter was a finalist for the National Book Award.

NOVELS AND NOVELLAS Believers. New York: Pantheon, 1997. The Feast of Love. New York: Pantheon, 2000. First Light. New York: Viking, 1987. Saul and Patsy. New York: Pantheon, 2003. Shadow Play. New York: Norton, 1993.

SOURCES Kiser, Michael. “Interview with Charles Baxter,” Sycamore Review 4 (Winter 1992): 1–15.

OTHER Atlantic Unbound. “Interview with Charles Baxter.” Available online to subscribers. URL: http://www.theatlantic. com/unbound/bookauth/baxtint.htm. Accessed August 21, 2005.

University of Michigan. “A Son of the Middle Border.” Available online. URL: http://www.umich.edu/~newsinfo/ MT/97/Spr97/mta7s97.html. Accessed May 28, 2005.

BEANS OF EGYPT, MAINE, THE CAROLYN CHUTE (1985) Carolyn CHUTE’s The Beans of Egypt, Maine tells the story of a rural working-class community crumbling apart as big industry and corporate incursions leave its people having to survive by making money instead of supporting each other through farming, barter, and shared work. While many working-class novels feature a central character whom the reader is supposed to root for as she or he climbs out and away from the home community, this novel focuses on the community that is left. Their world becomes a smaller, ghostly place as their land is eaten up and turned into suburbs, strip malls, highways, and prisons. Those who had lived modestly and in the traditional ways of rural American culture find themselves pushed to subsistence living, depression, and desperation. Where once farming life made a big family a desirable and respected foundation for the community, now these large families have fathers and sons in jail or in dangerous, low-paying jobs where a lack of affordable health care drives them deeper into debt and frustration. The men in the story, particularly Reuben Bean and his nephew, try to live according to models of masculinity that are dated and increasingly considered outlaw—working hard, drinking hard, ruling the roost, and creating a large family to carry on one’s name. Middle-class culture has not bothered to offer them the niceties or the leisure to “uplift” themselves to particular sets of manners and customs, like having a nice lawn in front of an immaculate house, and so they are seen by the middle class as barbarians who must be dismissed as human beings and corralled to be working machines, since that is all they are deemed good for. The working-class men in the novel end up dead or caged, leaving the women finding either no work, with the shame of welfare and food stamps, or grueling factory work that affords a living standard less healthy than that with government assistance. The novel embodies the impossibility of the happy melding of the classes in the thwarted romance of


Roberta Bean, a poor mother of many, and March Goodspeed, a realtor who is snapping up the lands to increase his own wealth. Unlike many working-class protagonists, Roberta Bean does not want any of the middle-class trappings of success; therefore, her relationship with middle-class March Goodspeed never really gets going. No middle-class person would want to be Roberta, even though she is independent and full of integrity. Roberta supports herself and her children by dint of her own resourcefulness and determination. She is capable with cars and people. She is compassionate but does not let herself be taken advantage of. Roberta is no tragic figure, but in a just world her virtues would entitle her to much, much more than she has in terms of respect and material things: Across the road, the tall woman, Roberta Bean, is dressed in a man’s ribbed undershirt and green wool pants. She is circling a piece of bare ground with an axe, her babies in yellow raincoats. The babies ornament her ankles, dangle from her pant legs. Thwank! Thwank! Thwank! Her axe beats upon the chopping block. . . . Out of the openings of the undershirt, Roberta Bean’s assiduous, straining, bony neck and scarry long arms work the axe on the stringy wood. Faster. Faster. Now and then one of her dark eyes turns onto the Lincoln Continental. . . . The tall woman moves all over the Lincoln’s rearview mirror as a prizefighter moves around the ring. The white wood is spewed into the pile . . . faster, faster. Her back is to March now. She seems to ignore him. (94–95) In this depiction of Roberta, we see her as a middleclass man, March Goodspeed, sees her. She is strong, capable, in control. Her children love and admire her unquestionably, and she is not anxious about her motherhood, nor beleaguered by it. She goes on to help March jump-start his car (much to his embarrassment and pleasure). Initially, he thinks she will go to get men to help him, and he is mortified by this, but Roberta does it herself with her truck. March’s own wife is enfeebled by paraplegia, so to him, Roberta’s strength and competence are a revelation—he soon

finds himself enamored of her. March’s perspective allows the reader to see how transcendent Roberta’s self-possession is: she is not just strong and capable for a woman or a poor person—she is impressive to people who have much greater means at their disposal. March Goodspeed would have her for a mistress, but he fundamentally misunderstands her. In a very funny passage where Roberta anonymously leaves him her own brand of love token on his home’s doorknob—a plastic bag of rabbit meat she killed and cleaned herself—he perceives it as a threat from the hostile locals who resent his move to town. For a person like March, meat comes in tidy plastic-covered styrofoam squares, and is just something to pick up at the megamarket. From Roberta, rabbit meat is a gift out of her limited resources: labor and food. It almost literally comes out of the mouths of her children. But it is a true generous gift, not a groveling, pitiful offering. Roberta, again taking over a manlike role, is a provider in a real sense, where March only has income: She tapes a note to March Goodspeed’s front door . . . a childlike scrawl: WELCOME TO EGYPT HERES A LITTLE PRESENT. Then she ties the bag of bunnies to the doorknob. She is silent out there in the fog, careful not to scuff against the hot top so she won’t wake the man who wears the shiny shoes, her consideration bordering on love. Then she strides away. (100) The vast gulf between Roberta and March ensures that they can never really have a relationship that more than “border[s] on love.” What Roberta does out of her capabilities is perceived unintentionally by March as a threat—he does not deal with the death that comes with eating meat in his middle-class life. To his credit, he tries to express his love in kind: he shows up at her house regularly with edible treats for the kids. But Roberta does not simper after his interest. She remains aloof and in control. She does not let her heart destroy her with alliances that are a bad idea. To some readers March may seem Roberta’s ticket out—a financial and romantic solution to her problems—but Chute understands that Roberta’s self-control and integrity are all she has to take care of herself in the world, and she


won’t sacrifice them for expediency. March fades away from Roberta, goes back to his new house on the newly developed land without a murmur. But around them, the consuming class wants what Roberta has for their own uses, and there will be no simple walking away if the working class refuses corporate encroachment.

SOURCE Chute, Carolyn. The Beans of Egypt, Maine. New York: Warner Books, 1985. Carolyn Whitsun

BEAN TREES, THE BARBARA KINGSOLVER (1988) In many ways, Barbara KINGSOLVER’s first novel, The Bean Trees, might be considered a conventional coming-of-age story, wherein a young woman follows the lead of her literary forebear Huckleberry Finn and journeys east to west on the road to independence. Kingsolver’s heroine, Taylor Greer, does resemble Huck Finn in her courage, honesty and adaptability. But in one important way, she departs: Taylor is a woman, and that fact defines much of what occurs in this remarkable story. Born Marietta Greer (one can understand the name change, Marietta being entirely too feminine for this sassy character) in Pittman, Kentucky, Taylor early feels an outsider, aware of those who shun her and her mother because of their low class and lack of wealth, but unwilling to join the ranks of poor teenage mothers. At the first opportunity, despite her great love for her mother, Taylor starts west in her ramshackle VW bug, unconsciously retracing the Trail of Tears that led the Cherokee tribe (of which her grandmother was one) to Oklahoma. There, at a desolate roadside bar, a woman worriedly foists a gift upon her: an infant girl, a Cherokee. Leaving Oklahoma, Taylor writes her mother that she has “found my head rights [to the Cherokee land]. . . . They’re coming with me.” Taylor and her new child, whom she names “Turtle” for her proclivity to cling like the mud turtles of Kentucky, hobble into Tucson, Arizona, where the VW bug fortuitously breaks down at “Jesus is Lord Used Tires.” Here, Taylor encounters Mattie, the generous woman who will give her a job and introduce her to Estevan and Esperanza, two Guatemalan refugees for whom she is

providing sanctuary. Taylor soon sets up house with another single mother, Lou Ann, also from Kentucky, and with their obvious care and good humor, this quartet redefines what it means to be a family. All is not easy: Taylor, an inexperienced mother, must figure out how to raise a daughter who she discovers has been physically and sexually abused, and Lou Ann must learn to let go of a husband who cannot commit to staying in one place. Each of the female characters finds within her a strength that she did not know she possessed. Lou Ann secures a job and learns to live independently. Taylor, who has been strongly attracted to Estevan, agrees to drive him and Esperanza to Oklahoma so that they might find a secure home. In a triumphant act of giving, the refugee couple, who have lost their own child, risk their freedom to pose as Turtle’s parents and give her up so that Taylor might adopt her from the Cherokee tribe. Ultimately, this band of disconnected and wayward travelers becomes a more vital and caring community than most nuclear families. Single parenting, child abuse, Central American refugees—Kingsolver seems to leave no contemporary issue untouched. Yet, though she proudly bears the mantle of a “political novelist,” she never comes across as preachy or stridently sectarian. The Bean Trees, though it gently coerces us into addressing such issues, involves us instead much more deeply on the personal level, as we wonder what will become of the endearingly real characters about whom we have come to care so tenderly. And though Turtle’s and Taylor’s story will continue to unfold in Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven, we are still ultimately rewarded here in the end, to find that love does conquer all and that humans will, given half a chance, act nobly and courageously.

SOURCES DeMarr, Mary Jean. Barbara Kingsolver: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Murrey, Loretta Martin. “The Loner and the Matriarchal Community in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven,” Southern Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of the South 5, no. 1–2 (Spring–Summer 1994): 155–164. Ryan, Maureen. “Barbara Kingsolver’s Lowfat Fiction,” Journal of American Culture 18, no. 4 (Winter 1995): 77–82. Patricia Lee


BEATTIE, ANN (1947– )

Ann Beattie has been repeatedly called the chronicler of her generation, those who came of age in the late 1960s. Author of six novels and six short-story collections to date, Beattie, a lightning rod for the professional critics, has been both faulted and hailed as a minimalist who is the equal of Raymond Carver and Donald BARTHELME. Some critics complain that her work lacks a moral center and that her usually white, apathetic characters lack intensity and humanity. Despite the critics, Beattie has a loyal following of readers who identify with her presentation of fragile identities and failed relationships in a culturally changing world. Ann Beattie was born on September 8, 1947, in Washington, D.C., to James A. Beattie, a government official, and Charlotte Crosby Beattie. She earned a bachelor’s degree (1969) in English from the American University and a master’s degree, also in English (1970), from the University of Connecticut in 1970. She married David Gates, a musician, in 1973, and published her first New Yorker short story in 1974. Her first collection of short fiction, Distortions, and her first novel, CHILLY SCENES OF WINTER, both appeared in 1976 and together they made Ann Beattie a name to notice in contemporary literature. More than any other novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter focuses on the so-called Woodstock generation. Charles, a 27-year-old, hopes to win back his lover, Laura, who has returned to her husband. It was made into a moderately successful film entitled Head over Heels in 1979, then rereleased as Chilly Scenes of Winter in 1982 and, in the New England area where it is set, became a cult film (Murphy, 4). Falling in Place (1980), Beattie’s second novel, uses multiple points of view to chronicle the crumbling marriage of John and Louise Knapp. Louise lives in Connecticut with two of their children, and John lives with his mother and youngest son in Rye, New York, and carries on an affair with Nina, a Lord and Taylor sales clerk. Despite an accidental shooting, Beattie’s second novel ends, like her first, with a reasonably optimistic resolution. The reader, however, senses a bleak future for these characters. Love Always (1985), a tragicomic novel, features a group of wealthy young people who all knew each

other during their college days and now work together in the Green Mountains of Vermont for Country Daze, a magazine that has taken New York by storm. Nicole has been sent to spend the summer with her aunt Lucy, who writes an advice column for Country Daze. The superficiality and amorality of the characters is highlighted by the death of Jane, Nicole’s mother in California, in an accident and by the failure of any of the characters to communicate with, much less love, each other. Picturing Will (1990), set in Charlottesville, Virginia, seems more optimistic to numerous readers and critics than Beattie’s earlier novels. Here Beattie is concerned with two adults who weigh their own needs against those of their child, Will. Will, unfortunately, witnesses many of the worst behaviors of Wayne, his father, Jody, his photographer mother, and Mel, who becomes his stepfather. Another You (1995) is a complicated and disturbing tale of infidelity, sexual abuse, and dark surprises. Much is disturbing in the family background of Marshall Lockhard, college professor and central character, yet it is a powerful, if depressing, evocation of contemporary characters in the 1980s. Beattie’s 1997 novel, My Life, Starring Dara Falcon, features the orphaned and traumatized Jean Warner, and an out-of-work actress, Dara Falcon. Jean leaves her husband and enrolls at the University of Connecticut before she realizes that she must purge her life of the aggressive and self-centered Dara. In 2000, Beattie was awarded the PEN/Bernard Malamud prize for her storytelling abilities. Her most recent novel is The Doctor’s House (2000), a subtle unfolding of the unhappy and dysfunctional childhoods of Andrew and Nina, brother and sister. Beattie and her husband live in Maine and Key West.

NOVELS Another You. New York: Knopf, 1995. Chilly Scenes of Winter. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1976. Falling in Place. New York: Random House, 1980. Love Always. New York: Random House, and London: Michael Joseph, 1985. My Life, Starring Dara Falcon. New York: Knopf, 1997. Picturing Will. New York: Random House, 1990.

SOURCES Lee, Don. “About Ann Beattie,” Ploughshares 21 (Fall 1995): 231–235.


McCaffery, Larry, and Sinda Gregory. “A Conversation with Ann Beattie,” Literary Review 27 (1984): 165–177. Montresor, Jaye Berman, ed. The Critical Response to Ann Beattie. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. Murphy, Christina. Ann Beattie. Boston: Twayne, 1986. Plath, James. “Counternarrative: An Interview with Ann Beattie,” Michigan Quarterly Review 32 (Summer 1993): 359–379.

OTHER Ann Beattie Opens Up: An interview by Chris Wright. Available online. URL: http://weeklywire.com/ww/08-2498/boston_books2.html. Accessed August 24, 2005. Featured Author: Ann Beattie. Available online. URL: http:// www.nytimes.com/books/98/06/28/specials/beattie.html. Accessed August 24, 2005. www.readings.org. “Ann Beattie.” Available online. URL: http:// www.readings.org/ifoa97/beattie.html. Accessed May 28, 2005. Wired for Books. “Audio Interview with Anne Beattie.” Available online. URL: http://wiredforbooks.org/annbeattie/. Accessed May 28, 2005.


With her debut novel about one girl’s experience as a spelling bee champion, Myla GOLDBERG explores the unraveling of a family. Bee Season is the story of the Naumanns, a deeply fractured and emotionally stunted family in which no one is who he or she seems. All of the family members have secret agendas that lead them to embark on their own spiritual quests for fulfillment and order. Nine-year-old Eliza, stuck in a remedial fifth-grade class, knows she is a “student from whom great things should not be expected.” No one is more surprised than she when she wins her school spelling bee and advances to the district level. Her father, Saul, a Jewish scholar and cantor with a deep interest in the Kabbalah, decides to take Eliza under his tutelage. This means that 16-year-old Aaron is suddenly replaced in his father’s favor. Saul no longer has time to continue Aaron’s Torah study and guitar lessons. In response, Aaron seeks solace with the Hare Krishnas, a decision that enrages Saul when he eventually discovers his son’s actions. Eliza’s mother, Miriam, a brilliant but distant lawyer, pays little attention to events taking place in the household. She is too busy leading a double life that keeps her barely hanging onto the edge of sanity.

When Eliza qualifies for the national spelling bee, Saul realizes that Eliza’s gift with words runs much deeper than her good spelling abilities. He senses in her a potential to reach the ultimate heights of Jewish mysticism, an accomplishment he had found, to his frustration, that he was unable to achieve. Thrilled to have her father’s attention and admiration, Eliza begins to study the patterns in letters and words. As a result, she enters a state of awareness in which words reveal themselves to her on a deep, spiritual level. She can envision a word dividing into all the other words contained within it. With her father’s coaching, she becomes obsessed with following the ancient Kabbalist teachings. When she finally achieves her goal, the terrifying and enrapturing experience changes her forever. In Bee Season, Goldberg shows the way a family can fall apart from neglect and lack of communication. The characters must lose themselves in order to find themselves, some of them doing so more successfully than others. By the end, they have each crossed a line from which, for better or for worse, they can never step back. The ultimate goal of each character can be found in Professor Yechiel Goldberg’s explanation of the fundamental tenet of the Kabbalah: “Human beings are partners with God in maintaining and perfecting this world, and in maintaining and perfecting the unity of God.” Saul and Eliza attempt to attain this relationship through Jewish mysticism and numerology. Aaron attempts to establish this partnership with God through the freedom he finds in an ancient religion he refuses to see as a cult. Miriam’s method of organizing and “fixing” the world is, arguably, more bizarre than her son’s, eventually leading to her arrest and incarceration in a mental institution.

SOURCES Goldberg, Myla. Bee Season. New York: Doubleday, 2000. ———. “Juan Williams Talks with Myla Goldberg.” National Public Radio, Talk of the Nation (June 1, 2000). Gray, Paul. “The Power of the Word,” Time (July 3, 2000): 62.

OTHER Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher. “Seeking Transcendence through Proper Spelling,” The New York Times on the Web (12 June 2000). Available online. URL:


http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/061200goldbergbook-review.html. Accessed August 21, 2005. Weeks, Jerome. “Quirky New Novel Delves into the Mysteries of Kabbalah.” The Dallas Morning News (29 November 2000). HighBeam Research. Available online. URL: http:// www.highbeamresearch.com library/doc3.asp?DOCID= 1G1:67437983&num=4. Accessed August 21, 2005. Wendy Mass

BEET QUEEN, THE LOUISE ERDRICH (1986) “There is a thread beginning with my grandmother Adelaide and traveling through my father and arriving at me. That thread is flight” (335). It is telling that the identity of the Beet Queen is not revealed until the final section of Louise ERDRICH’s novel. Dot is, in fact, the last of a line of unique women and men and has gathered the qualities of all those who came before her. Dot has many fathers and mothers, and it is through them that she becomes Beet Queen—but on the day of her celebration she decides that her true identity is not that of a beet queen. And since The Beet Queen is more about the journey than the destination, in this context the novel’s open ending emphasizes that the process is far from over for Dot. Travel—the constant moving away from or toward places and people—is a central theme of this novel. And perhaps because of this endless motion, we sometimes feel as if this tale contains no single protagonist. It is certainly not Dot, since her real transformation begins in the final pages of the book. If, however, we were to pick one still point within the novel’s complex cast, it should be Mary Adare. On a cold day, the orphaned Mary and Karl Adare jump from a cold boxcar into the town of Argus. Their mother has literally flown away with a new lover at the aerial show of a fair, and their baby brother was lovingly abducted by a desperate couple. Their life in general seems to have dispersed, disintegrated in front of their eyes. Karl leaves Argus as soon as he arrives, when the next train rolls through town; the rest of his life seems determined by that moment, since he will spend his days as a traveling salesman, stopping only for brief affairs with both men and women. Mary, however, decides to settle down, seeking shelter with her aunt and uncle: “I planned to be essential to

them all, so depended upon that they could never send me off. I did this on purpose, because I soon found out that I had nothing else to offer” (19). She had spent the previous months moving from one town to another with her mother and Karl; during this time, she watched the way Adelaide’s wanderlust—only in part provoked by their poverty—was destroying the family, and the way Karl had come to resemble her. As if to emphasize her decision, she grows into a stout woman whose decisions, likes, and dislikes are usually final. At first an outsider, she takes over the family’s butcher shop when her aunt and uncle move to Florida. Her cousin Sita, who admired Mary’s mother for her elegance and love of traveling, also leaves Argus to become a fashion model. It is Mary’s refusal to move or change that turns her into a point of reference for the other characters. In a story where dispersion and flight are key elements, Mary seems reliable, predictable. Karl travels briefly to Argus and leaves Mary’s friend Celestine pregnant; his previous affair had been with Wallace Pfef, an eminent Argus town leader he met at a convention. Once Karl disappears, Mary takes the reluctant Celestine and her baby under her protection. Wallace, sensing that he, too, is part of the family tree—after all, he has helped deliver the baby—also acts as guardian to baby Wallacette/Dot. Thus an eclectic family is created out of necessity, adding its members gradually and not always willingly: Sita, mentally ill in her later years, refuses to have any contact with Mary and Celestine. Entrenched in her upscale suburban home, she wears Adelaide’s pawned garnet necklace and laments her own loss of beauty and sanity. Mary’s stubborn, forceful nature gradually alienates her from even Celestine and Dot, who as a child looks up to her aunt. Perhaps as a legacy of her chaotic early childhood, Mary has become a dictatorial figure in her family and community. She treats the customers at her failing shop as harshly as she does her family. Her instinct to survive through action and calculated decisions is understandable but does not sit well with the children who must obediently play the games she designs for Dot’s parties. However, even Mary cannot escape a magical vein that runs in the family. Upon their arrival in Argus as children, Karl had made a branch of flower blossoms


linger as perfume long after he jumped back on the train. A few years later, Mary herself performed a minor miracle—at least according to the nuns who ran her school—by sliding face first into the icy ground and leaving an imprint of what appeared to be the face of Christ (although Mary herself was convinced that it was Karl’s face). Another mythical occurrence is her mother’s fairy-tale disappearance. As the years go by, Mary develops a strong affinity for esoteric arts and the afterlife. A practical woman, she is certainly not skilled in these areas and therefore seems to others a fake and an eccentric. And she herself recognizes this shortcoming: “Once I had caused a miracle by smashing my face on ice, but now I was an ordinary person” (203). Not surprisingly, Mary’s exaggerated sense of selfrighteousness and desire to control others unites the rest of the family in several attempts to evade her influence. As Dot grows into her teens, her childhood admiration for her aunt will also fade, although Celestine’s daughter will inherit Mary’s forceful ways and herself become an outcast among her peers. The culminating scene of the novel is the Beet Festival organized by Wallace, who has also fixed the votes for Beet Queen so that Dot may win. He thus hopes to make up for his failure as surrogate father. When Dot discovers what he has done, she reacts not with gratitude but with fury: having inherited Mary’s and Celestine’s solid builds and unladylike ways, she knows that nobody will believe she could have legitimately been voted Beet Queen. In The Beet Queen, people, places, events, and even time periods, all seem to mutate and fall apart, only to surprise readers by coming back together at various points. At the festival, the entire circle of family and acquaintances is finally united, albeit in a strange, disjointed manner. Following an overdose of pills, Sita’s body is picked up from her suburban garden and parked under a tree until the festival ends. Karl returns to seek a reconciliation with Wallace. Jude Miller, the baby brother taken from Mary when her mother disappeared, makes his way back to Argus to witness the events. Now a priest, he is known to Karl through a chance meeting, but the rest of the family remains unaware of his existence. At the end of the novel, he seems to have made no contact with Mary and Karl. Russell, Celestine’s brother

and a war veteran whose many wounds have caused his body to deteriorate and become unrecognizable, rides a parade float as a town hero. In this final section, the first-person narration— which had shifted mainly among Celestine, Mary, Karl, Sita, and Wallace—finally belongs to Dot. We hear her voice and sense her perceptions instead of reading her through the eyes of others. In a stunt that echoes her grandmother Adelaide’s escape, Dot flies off in the plane that was to write her name in the sky, pronouncing her Queen of the Beet Festival. Doubling as a skyseeder for the drought-parched town, the plane nevertheless makes a quick return after fulfilling both duties. At this point, Dot realizes that she must handle the “thread of flight” she has inherited with more responsibility than did some of her predecessors, namely Karl and Adelaide. In the end, Dot creates her own miracle, as the town sees rain for the first time in months. Louise Erdrich has thus woven a complex network of characters whose lives are not always as much their own as they would like to believe. In the end, the prevailing message is that we cannot escape heritage. Sita tries, and ends up losing her mind and her life. Adelaide’s own attempt leads her to a life of barely suppressed rage eerily similar to Sita’s. After a lifetime of flight, Karl yearns to settle down and come to know his daughter. And in the novel’s open ending, we can only hope that Dot will mix the traits she has inherited— flight and groundedness, sensitivity and hard pragmatism—into a stable combination of yet another unique character.

SOURCES Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. New York: Routledge, 1989. Beidler, Peter G., and Gay Barton. A Reader’s Guide to the Novels of Louise Erdrich. St. Louis: University of Missouri Press, 1999. Erdrich, Louise. The Beet Queen. New York: Perennial, 2001. Krupat, Arnold. The Voice in the Margin: Native American Literature and the Canon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989. Peck, David, ed. “Louise Erdrich.” In American Ethnic Writers, Vol. 1, 159–162. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2000.


Stookey, Lorena L. Louise Erdrich: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1999. Maria Luisa Antonaya

BEGLEY, LOUIS (1933– )

Louis Begley has published seven novels, several of which have been nominated for literary prizes: Wartime Lies (1991) received the PEN/Ernest Hemingway First Fiction Award and was nominated for a National Book Award and a National Book Critics’ Circle Award. Like his famous predecessors, Edith WHARTON and Louis AUCHINCLOSS, Begley writes mostly about the elite community of very wealthy New Yorkers. Louis Begley was born Ludwik Begleiter, on October 6, 1933, in Stryj, Poland, to Edward David Begleiter, a physician, and Frances Hauser Begleiter. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1948 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1953. Begley was educated at Harvard University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude) in 1954, served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956, married Sally Higginson in 1956 (the marriage ended in divorce in 1970), then returned to Harvard to complete his doctor of laws degree (magna cum laude) in 1959. Although he did not publish his first novel until he was in his late 50s, Begley, as a well-known New York lawyer, is uniquely qualified to write of the very rich (his law practice naturally included privileged financial information). As a Jewish refugee from Poland, he understands the pessimism felt by those buffeted about by a random fate. His first novel, Wartime Lies, features Maciek, the narrator, who recalls himself as a six-yearold orphan boy, and Tania, his aunt, who adopted false identities to avoid the Nazi persecution of the Jews and to survive World War II. He followed with The Man Who Was Late (1993), again about a European Jew, Ben, who survived the war only to become wealthy in the United States; his passionate involvement with Veronique, cousin to his best friend, along with his guilty feelings and suicidal impulses, are reminiscent of Stingo’s in William STYRON’s SOPHIE’S CHOICE. As Max Saw It (1994) features a Harvard Law School professor who feels guilty for befriending two gay men, Charlie Swan and his lover Toby; he cannot help Toby, who dies from AIDS. In About Schmidt (1996), Begley’s

main character is a wealthy WASP, Albert Schmidt, who lives in the Hamptons and displays his bias against Jews when his daughter Dorothy becomes engaged to a Jew. Mistler’s Exit (1998) also has a somewhat unsympathetic protagonist who resembles Schmidt; the very wealthy Mistler, who is dying of cancer, goes to Venice and has relationships with two very different women; he realizes that he has sacrificed his humanity on the altar of his successful advertising agency, but the knowledge seems to make no difference to the way he prepares to die. Schmidt Delivered (2000) continues the presentation of Schmidt and his daughter and her husband (who has indeed turned out to be a ne’er-do-well). Schmidt’s Puerto Rican mistress, introduced in the earlier novel, rejects Schmidt’s offer of marriage and in fact Schmidt himself. Begley’s most recently published novel is Shipwreck (2003). He lives in New York City with Anne Muhlstein Dujarric de la Riviere, a writer whom he married in 1974, and continues with his second career as a novelist. In 1995 he was the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

NOVELS About Schmidt. New York: Knopf, 1996. As Max Saw It. New York: Knopf, 1994. The Man Who Was Late. New York: Knopf, 1993. Mistler’s Exit. New York: Knopf, 1998. Schmidt Delivered. New York: Knopf, 2000. Shipwreck. New York: Knopf, 2003. Wartime Lies. New York: Knopf, 1991.

SOURCES Flowers, Charles. Review of About Schmidt, BookPage Online (September 1998). Available online. URL: http://www. bookpage.com/9609bp/fiction/aboutschmidt.html. Accessed August 21, 2005. ———. Review of Mistler’s Exit. BookPage Online. (September 1996). Available online. URL: http://www.bookpage. com/9809bp/fiction/mistlers_exit.html. Accessed August 21, 2005. Kafka-Gibbons, Paul. Review of Mistler’s Exit, Denver Post (September 13, 1998). Available online. URL: http:// extras.denverpost.com/books/book368.htm. Accessed August 21, 2005. Mallick, Heather. “In Praise of Older Men: Louis Begley’s Startling New Novel Shows Us the Humanity beneath the Pinstriped Suit.” Canoe (November 3, 1996). Available


online. URL: http://www.canoe.ca/JamBooksReviewsA/ aboutschmidt_begley.html. Accessed August 21, 2005.

BEING THERE JERZY KOSINSKI (1971) Neither of KOSINSKI’s first two novels prepared his readers for his third, Being There. The PAINTED BIRD (1965) is a fairly lengthy, nightmarish picaresque of a dark-complexioned young boy’s survival in the eastern European countryside during World War II. Stylistically, The Painted Bird is a vigorous synthesis of elements of the panoramic realist novel and of the folktale. STEPS (1968), a thin novel with very little chronology or other narrative structure, presents incidents in the existential life of a young eastern European exile in the postwar period. Stylistically, Steps is as spare and as restrained as its protagonist is undemonstrative and self-contained. Although the two novels do share some thematic concerns, just about the only surface similarities between them are that both protagonists remain unnamed and many of the events that are depicted are horrifically ironic. Some critics have suggested that although Kosinski won a National Book Award for Steps, he should have won it for The Painted Bird and the judges were, to some degree, compensating for their earlier oversight. Compared to these first two novels, Being There seems a slight book, a contemporary fable, a secular parable, a light satire on the nature of celebrity, influence, truth, and understanding in American politics and high society. Indeed, viewed in the context of Kosinski’s whole corpus, Being There remains his most anomalous work. Ironically, because of the success of the highly regarded film adaptation starring Peter Sellers, Being There may now be Kosinski’s most widely known work. The novel’s main character is an amiable cipher named Chance. For reasons that are never explained, Chance was raised and continued to live entirely cut off from the rest of the world within a walled property in a large city. He has filled his days and years tending the estate’s gardens. His only human contacts have been the owner of the estate (presumably his grandfather but referred to simply as the “Old Man”) and a maid, both of whom treat him as if he is simpleminded or emotionally damaged. His only exposure to

the outside world has been through the television shows that he watches but for which he has developed no context for understanding. Chance is imperturbably contented with this existence but seemingly unprepared for anything else. Then, when the “Old Man” dies, the lawyers serving as the executors of his estate have no choice but to evict Chance from the premises. Not only has the Old Man not mentioned Chance in his will, but there is no documentation of their relationship and, in fact, no documentation whatsoever of Chance’s existence. Chance is put out into the street wearing one of the Old Man’s suits and carrying a single suitcase. It contains more of the expensive but outdated suits and shirts that the Old Man had kept pristinely stored in the attic and that would have been disposed of or donated to charity. In a very ironic turn of events, these suits will mark Chance as a well-bred person of means and serve as his pass into the broader world of wealth, privilege, and power. Chance has barely left the walled estate in which he has spent his whole life when he is struck by the chauffeured limousine of E. E. Rand, the wife of the industrialist Benjamin Rand. Chance’s leg is injured, and she insists on taking him back to her estate, where her ailing husband is receiving around-the-clock medical attention. When she asks Chance his name, he responds, “Chance, the gardener,” which she hears as “Chauncey Gardiner.” And thus begins the process by which the Rands and their circle construct a new identity for Chance. In conversation, he talks literally about gardening and television because those are the only things about which he has any knowledge, and everyone accepts his remarks as profoundly metaphoric. Rand is an informal adviser to the president of the United States and is so impressed by what he interprets as Chance’s very carefully expressed insights that he introduces him to the president. Like Rand, the president is taken by Chance’s pithy, seemingly figurative observations about the current economic situation, and soon after their meeting, he credits Chance in public with having seen and expressed what other experts, in the president’s view, had missed in their economic analyses. Overnight, there is much speculation in the media about this mysterious figure who has suddenly


emerged as a major new “player” on the Washington political scene. Chance is even invited to appear on several television news programs. When he is asked questions about current events and about his own background to which he has no answers, he simply sits there silently and sedately, and his behavior is interpreted as unshakable self-assurance and an extraordinary ability to maintain his composure. When it becomes widely known that Chance has no personal history that any investigative agency can uncover, there is initially a great deal of suspicion about who has insinuated him into a position of influence. Then, when no sinister connections can be substantiated, some begin to see his combination of personal anonymity and public celebrity as a tremendous political asset, and there is even talk of a vice presidential nomination. As Benjamin Rand nears death, he guesses the truth about Chance, but he also recognizes his inherent goodness—or his Edenic absence of evil—and his wife’s attraction to Chance. Despite Chance’s simplicity, he sees enough in him to put him at peace with dying. In one of the novel’s most notorious scenes, E. E. Rand tries to seduce Chance, who is asexual, and when he becomes transfixed with the television and states that he likes to watch, she interprets this to mean that he wants to watch her masturbate. In a hilarious irony, she has one of the most satisfying sexual experiences of her life. Nonetheless, most of the novel is more flatly than hilariously ironic, understated rather than pointedly comical. Interestingly, when the novel was adapted to film, the director chose to include a series of outtakes among the closing credits. These outtakes demonstrated how difficult it had been for Sellers to play Chance as a placid cipher for whom all things pleasant and unpleasant are equally ambiguous or amorphous. The outtakes are hilarious where the film is not. Likewise, in the novel, Kosinski prevents us from dismissing Chance as an absurdity but never permits us to take him very seriously. The novel seems to be told from a third-person-limited point of view, but for the sake of clarity and of continuity in the narrative voice, there are sections in which the narrator is forced to reveal a little more than what Chance is capable of understanding. If Being There is

a parable, it is a postmodern parable in which the reader is left with the conundrum of explaining just how the experiences of an almost completely weightless character might embody some substantive and meaningful insight into contemporary life. In effect, the reader is left to construct a meaning for the novel just as the characters around Chance construct an identity for him as Chauncey Gardiner. And just as Chance does not seem to care one way or the other about what that identity might entail, Kosinski seems ultimately not to care what “moral” might be assigned to his narrative.

SOURCES Bolling, Douglass. “The Precarious Self in Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There,” Greyfriar: Siena Studies in Literature 16 (1975): 41–46. Carter, Steven. “ ‘Plants Were Like People’: Kosinski’s Being There,” Notes on Contemporary Literature 28 (November 1998): 6–9. Griffiths, Gareth. “Being There; Being There: Kosinski and Malouf.” In Past the Last Post: Theorizing Post-Colonialism and Post-Modernism, edited by Ian Adam and Helen Tiffin, 153–166. Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary Press, 1990. Grigsby, John L. “A Mirroring of America and Russia: Reflections of Tolstoy in Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There,” Notes on Contemporary Literature 17 (September 1987): 6–8. Holstad, Scott C. “The Dialectics of Getting There: Kosinski’s Being There and the Existential Anti-Hero,” Arkansas Review: A Journal of Criticism 4 (Fall 1995): 220–228. Lazar, Mary. “Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There, Novel and Film: Changes Not by Chance,” College Literature 31 (Spring 2004): 99–116. Lupack, Barbara Tepa. “Chance Encounters: Bringing Being There to the Screen.” In Critical Essays on Jerzy Kosinski, edited by Barbara Tepa Lupack, 208–220. New York: G. K. Hall, 1998. ———. “Hit or Myth: Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There,” New Orleans Review 13 (Summer 1986): 58–68. Murray, Raymond B. “ ‘That Certain Krylovian Touch’: An Insight into Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There,” Notes on Contemporary Literature 19 (March 1989): 6–8. Tepa, Barbara J. “Jerzy Kosinski’s Polish Contexts: A Study of Being There,” Polish Review 22, no. 2 (1977): 52–61. Wood, Dave. “Censors ‘Who Like to Watch’ Curricula: Jerzy Kosinski and the Banning of Being There.” In Censored Books, II: Critical Viewpoints, 1985–2000, edited by


Nicholas J. Karolides, 51–57. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2002. Ziegler, Robert. “Electing the Video Self: A Note on Being There,” Notes on Contemporary Literature 19 (March 1989): 2–3. Martin Kich

BELL, MADISON SMARTT (1957– ) Novelist and short-story writer Madison Smartt Bell has published 12 novels and two short-story collections. By the time he was 35, he was considered by numerous critics to be a prodigy who wrote about social outcasts and used a technique that blended traditional narrative structure with postmodern minimalism. Madison Smartt Bell was born on August 1, 1957, in rural Williamson County, near Nashville, Tennessee, to Henry Denmark Bell, a lawyer and later a circuit judge, and Georgia Allen Wigginston, an equestrian who gave riding lessons, ran a summer camp, and managed the family’s 96-acre farm. Bell was educated at Princeton University, earning his bachelor’s degree (1979) in English, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. At Hollins College he earned his master’s degree in 1981 and wrote his first novel, The Washington Square Ensemble, published in 1983. He began teaching at Goucher College in 1984, then met and married the poet Elizabeth Spires on June 15, 1985. Beginning and ending in New York’s Washington Square, The Washington Square Ensemble resembles a jazz piece; it uses five different voices to describe one day in the life of Johnny B. Goode, a street-smart heroin dealer. One character from The Washington Square Ensemble, Porco, reappears in Bell’s next novel, Waiting for the End of the World. This novel, brimming with random violence and planned chaos, depicts New York at the mercy of revolutionaries; the central character, Clarence Larkin, along with an assortment of Vietnam veterans, former drug addicts, and alcoholics, is involved in a plot to blow up Times Square. The Year of Silence is set in Europe as Thomas Larkin, brother of Clarence Larkin of Waiting for the End of the World, mourns his brother, who has apparently died of radiation sickness. He also describes his reaction to the death from a drug overdose of a young woman named Marion Weber. These three novels constitute Bell’s New York trilogy.

Scholar R. Reed Sanderlin believes that Bell, who had just written an essay criticizing postmodernism and defending literary realism and the familiar literary approaches that appeal to wider audiences, followed his own prescription with his next novel Straight Cut (1987). It is more narrowly focused on the protagonist and narrator Tracy Bateman, a film editor and reader of Kierkegaard, who becomes involved in writing a mystery story about a drug smuggling scheme. With Soldier’s Joy (1987), Bell wrote his first novel with a southern setting. The plot, too, seems slightly more traditional, and involves two returned Vietnam veterans, Thomas Laidlaw, who is white, and Rodney Redman, who is black; they overcome a Ku Klux Klan plot against Laidlaw and rescue a preacher from an assassination attempt. His next novel, set in contemporary London, was Doctor Sleep (1992). Adrian Strother, an American hypnotherapist, is searching for a cure for his insomnia, and becomes entranced with the gnostic hermeticism of the 16th-century monk Giordano Bruno and in the physicality of the martial arts. Bell, who writes about one novel per year, published Save Me, Joe Louis in 1993, the tale of two drifters, Charlie and Macrae, who rob cash machines until the practice becomes too dangerous. Then they retreat to Macrae’s family farm, with a compatriot named Porter and Macrae’s cousin Lacy, and work the farm and care for Macrae’s aged father. Bell’s increasing concern with racism in the New South led to the critically acclaimed All Souls’ Rising (1996), set during the 18th-century Haitian fight for independence. The panorama of plantation owners, slaves, voodoo, and violence is presented through the eyes of Dr. Antoine Hébert; he has been compared to Marlowe in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The book was both a PEN/Faulkner and National Book Award finalist. Bell followed this success with Ten Indians (1996), focusing again on racism and its solution through the protagonist, a child named Michael Devlin, who opens up a tae kwon do class in a crime-ridden area of Baltimore. Four years later, in 2000, Master of the Crossroads, the second novel in the Haiti trilogy appeared. It begins where All Souls’ Rising ended, and uses some of the same characters. Bell’s latest novel, Anything


Goes, features members of a band with that name, particularly Jesse Melungeon, the bass-player narrator addicted to painkillers and in competition with his father for a woman named Stella. Madison Smartt Bell currently teaches at Goucher College, where he holds the Goucher Chair of Distinguished Achievement. He is working on the third book in the Haitian trilogy.

NOVELS All Souls’ Rising. New York: Pantheon, 1995. Anything Goes. New York: Pantheon, 2002. Doctor Sleep. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1991. Master of the Crossroads. New York: Pantheon, 2000. Save Me, Joe Louis. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993. Soldier’s Joy. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1989. Straight Cut. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1986. Ten Indians. New York: Pantheon, 1996. Waiting for the End of the World. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1985. The Washington Square Ensemble. New York: Viking, 1983. The Year of Silence. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1987.

SOURCES Bell, Madison Smartt. “Literature and Pleasure: Bridging the Gap,” Antaeus (Autumn 1987): 127–134. Birkerts, Sven. “Madison Smartt Bell/Debra Spark.” In American Energies: Essays on Fiction, 380–385. New York: Morrow & Co., 1992. Cronin, Justin. “A Conversation with Madison Smartt Bell,” Four Quarters 9 (Spring 1995): 13–24. Shelnutt, Eve, ed. My Poor Elephant: 27 Male Writers at Work. Atlanta, Ga.: Longstreet Press, 1992. Stephens, Jack. “Madison Smartt Bell,” Bomb 73 (Fall 2000): 36–42. Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. “Bodies and Souls: The Haitian Revolution and Madison Smartt Bell’s All Souls Rising.” In Novel History: Historians and Novelists Confront America’s Past, and Each Other, edited by Mark C. Carnes, 184–197. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. Weaks, Mary Louise. “An Interview with Madison Smartt Bell,” Southern Review 30 (Winter 1994): 1–12. Winchell, Mark Royden. “Other Voices, Other Runes,” Sewanee Review 92, no. 2 (Spring 1989): xliii–xliv.

OTHER Madison Smartt Bell. Available online. URL: http://faculty.goucher.edu/mbell/Welcome.htm. Accessed August 21, 2005.

BELLAMY, EDWARD (1850–1898)

After Edward Bellamy published his utopian novel LOOKING BACKWARD: 2000–1887 (1888), for the rest of the century it remained second in sales only to Harriet Beecher STOWE’s best-seller UNCLE TOM’S CABIN; selling nearly a million copies in 10 years, the novel was also popular with socialist groups in European and Asian countries. Bellamy, whose ancestors were all ministers, was a social reformer who had no enemies. The socialist utopia he proposed in Looking Backward was palatable to his audiences because of the imaginative fictional technique he used. In contrast, Equality (1897), the sequel to Looking Backward, contained far less creativity and was more didactic. Edward Bellamy was born on March 26, 1850, in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, to Rufus King Bellamy, a New England Baptist minister, and Maria Putnam Bellamy, a Calvinist. As he grew up, Bellamy was angered by the abusive mill owners and the cruelties exacted on working children; when he visited Europe with his brother, he also became concerned about the terrible conditions in which employees were forced to work. Rather than becoming a minister, Bellamy opted instead for the law, and, after apprenticing himself to a Springfield, Massachusetts, attorney, he was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1871. After a few years as a journalist, Bellamy became a full-time writer, publishing Six to One: A Nantucket Idyl (1878) about the romance between an infirm newspaper editor and the young woman who connects with him both romantically and spiritually. The Duke of Stockbridge: A Romance of Shays’ Rebellion, was published serially the following year and in book form in 1900; it demonstrated Bellamy’s unshakable sympathy with the post-Revolutionary War working villagers and small farmers rather than with the landowners and merchants. In the Hawthornesque Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process (1880) and Miss Ludington’s Sister: A Romance of Immortality (1884), Bellamy looks at man’s propensity for guilt and acknowledges humanity’s constant need to recall the past. In Miss Ludington’s Sister, particularly, Bellamy presents the aging Ida Ludington alone with bitter memories of her lost youth; through dialogues with her nephew Paul, she begins to let go of the past and accept the inevitability of the aging


process. Looking Backward, Bellamy’s fictional utopia, lays out his belief in communal living and its success through the goodness and hard work of the individual. Bellamy has garnered admiration and praise for his humanitarian intentions. He has also drawn criticism for his naïveté and his blindness to the tyrannical possibilities inherent in a powerful group. Contemporary scholars raise questions, too, about the role of women in Bellamy’s utopias, suggesting that he had little regard for women’s capabilities. While writing his last novel, Equality, Bellamy contracted tuberculosis and died of the disease the year following publication. His ideas still attract writers and readers interested in utopias, and scholars are still writing articles on his work.

NOVELS Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process. New York: Appleton, 1880. The Duke of Stockbridge: A Romance of Shays’ Rebellion. New York, Boston, & Chicago: Silver, Burdett, 1900. Equality. New York: Appleton, 1897. Looking Backward: 2000–1887. Boston: Ticknor, 1888. Miss Ludington’s Sister: A Romance of Immortality. Boston: Osgood, 1884. Six to One: A Nantucket Idyl. New York: Putnam’s, 1878.

SOURCES Bowman, Sylvia E. Edward Bellamy. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986. Halewood, W. H. “Catching up with Edward Bellamy,” University of Toronto Quarterly 63, no. 3 (Spring 1994): 451–461. Jehmlich, Reimer. “Cog-Work: The Organization of Labor in Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward and in Later Utopian Fiction.” In Clockwork Worlds: Mechanized Environments in Science Fiction, edited by Richard D. Erlich and Thomas P. Dunn, 27–46. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1983. Morgan, Arthur E. Edward Bellamy. New York: Columbia University Press, 1944. Patai, Daphne. “Utopia for Whom,” Aphra 5, no. 3 (Summer 1974): 2–16. Samuels, Warren J. “A Centenary Reconsideration of Bellamy’s Looking Backward,” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology 43, no. 2 (April 1984): 129–148. Widdicombe, Richard Toby. “ ‘Dynamite in Disguise’: A Deconstructive Reading of Bellamy’s Utopian Novels,” ATO 3, no. 1 (March 1989): 69–84.

BELL FOR ADANO, A JOHN HERSEY (1944) A Bell for Adano was John HERSEY’s first novel, written after publishing two books based upon his experience as a World War II correspondent covering battles in the Pacific for Life and Time magazines. Hersey received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for this novel, significantly on V-E Day, celebrating the end of the fighting in Europe on May 8, 1945, with his own celebration for this recognition of his highly readable writing skills. In 1945 the book was turned into a movie that was directed by Henry King. This story about a bell evolved from an article Hersey wrote in July 1943 for Life about the real-life work of the Allied Military Government Occupied Territory (AMGOT) in Licata, Sicily. Hersey fictionalized the people mentioned in the article and the events to create a tale filled with characters and situations reminiscent of those that would appear 30 years later in the M.A.S.H. television series, which dealt overtly with a later war. Major Victor Joppolo, the son of Italian immigrants, is the AMGOT representative charged with bringing order to the town of Adano. He achieves this goal using democratic principles, thereby endearing himself to the townspeople in the process—they even arrange to have his portrait painted for display in the city hall as a surprise for him. He also manages to replace the centuriesold town bell of the title, which the Fascists had confiscated to turn into armaments one month before the Americans arrived to liberate the town. The bell arrives just as the major is being reassigned to another post for defying the arbitrary orders of a crazy general, which, if followed, would not have allowed the townspeople to function in their liberated world. When the novel first appeared, it received mixed reviews. Edward Weeks described it for Atlantic Monthly as “a morality tale with oversimplified characters to make points about the battle between good and evil” (cited in Huse, 12). Conversely, in a review for the New York Herald Tribune, Virginia Sapieha saw the novel as “underscor[ing] the traditional good will toward men which characterizes American occupation forces at their best” (cited in Huse, 11), which certainly reflects the image that politicians are trying to portray of the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan today. Understanding the successes achieved during the


American occupation of towns in Europe during World War II by reading a fictionalized account of the experience, such as is found here in A Bell for Adano, could help people today understand why America seems to be so certain this country can help other countries achieve democracy—it worked in Europe in the 1940s; it should work again (although, of course, history has proven in the interim that these occupations are not always successful). The real lesson to be learned from reading the novel, however, maybe the one noted by history professors such as Edward Beardsley of the University of South Carolina, who have included novels such as A Bell for Adano in their curriculum because they reflect “the efforts of a perceptive contemporary to make sense of his/her own time and give it the sort of imaginative shading and emotional depth necessarily absent from textbooks” (Beardsley, 161), thereby providing students with a better understanding of the human beings who comprised the communities being studied in the classroom.

SOURCES Beardsley, Edward H. “New Sources for an Old Story: The Use of Novel, Memoir, and Essay in the History Classroom,” International Social Science Review 68, no. 4 (Fall 1993): 161–169. Hersey, John. A Bell for Adano. New York: A. Knopf, 1944. ———. “AMGOT at Work.” Life, 23 August 1943, pp. 29–31. Huse, Nancy Lyman. John Hersey and James Agee: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978. Internet Movie Data Base. Bell for Adano, A. Available online. URL: http://us.imdb.com. Accessed May 29, 2005. Sanders, David. John Hersey. Boston: Twayne, 1967. ———. John Hersey Revisited. Boston: Twayne, 1991. ———. “John Hersey: War Correspondent into Novelist.” In New Voices in American Studies, edited by Ray B. Browne, Donald M. Winkelman, and Allen Hayman. Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Studies, 1966. Sapieha, Virginia. “With the Americans in a Sicilian Village,” New York Herald Tribune Book Review, 6 February 1944, p. 1. Weeks, Edward. Review of A Bell for Adano, Atlantic 173 (April 1944): 127. Peggy J. Huey


The Bell Jar, like so much of PLATH’s writing, is loosely based

on her own experiences; the novel was, in fact, originally published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas because Plath feared it might anger or hurt the people in her life on whom she modeled her characters. As with much of her poetic work, though it is based in part on her life, The Bell Jar is a complex social critique moving far beyond the conventions of memoir. In The Bell Jar, Plath uses her own experiences as a way to explore, in part, the tremendous challenges and difficulties faced by smart, ambitious young women in the social culture of America in the 1950s, a culture in which there were few, if any, roles available to women beyond those of dutiful wife and mother. A metaphor for the main character’s emotional state as she attempts to develop and define a fulfilling identity amid rigid societal restrictions, the bell jar of the novel’s title refers both to a bell-shaped glass used to protect delicate objects and to a similarly shaped glass used in scientific experiments to create a vacuum. The Bell Jar is an example of bildungsroman, and as such it has been favorably compared to other major works of the genre including The CATCHER IN THE RYE by J. D. SALINGER and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. The novel’s main character, Esther Greenwood, is an extremely intelligent 19-year-old who wants to be a poet. Her mother and other figures of authority encourage her to adopt more “socially appropriate” ambitions. Esther’s deep internal conflict and fractured identity lead ultimately to an emotional breakdown and suicide attempt, and finally to Esther’s hospitalization and fraught recovery. Throughout the novel, Esther struggles to piece together an identity from all the conflicting roles she feel she must adopt—those of perfect daughter, virginal sweetheart/future wife and homemaker, savvy and sexually experienced woman— as well as those she personally strives for, such as poet, artist, and intellectual. When Esther wins a writing contest held by Ladies’ Day magazine, and she, along with several other winners from around the country, is awarded a summer job with the magazine as a guest editor, these conflicting identities become increasingly unmanageable. Esther and the other guest editors are brought to New York City, where they are endlessly photographed and treated to fancy meals by the magazine. Among the


other guest editors, Esther encounters Doreen, the sexy and sexually assertive girl with whom she shares a room. She finds Doreen’s opposite in Betty, another guest editor whose sweet manner and air of innocence stand in stark contrast to Doreen’s personality and behavior. These two extremes reflect two of the possible identities Esther feels pressured to take on, although she can see no way to assume and balance the desirable traits from each. She agrees to go on illicit (and ultimately disastrous) double dates with Doreen, but she hides behind a fake name (Elly Higginbottom) when she does so. At other moments, she assumes a Betty-like naive and virginal persona. As the summer in New York progresses, Esther feels increasingly anxious and troubled. After enduring an attempted rape on one of the dates set up by Doreen, she leaves New York feeling more alienated and conflicted than ever. When she returns from New York, Esther is again bombarded by pressure to conform to the social and sexual models those around her deem suitable for her. She is increasingly aware of the societal double standard that values sexual experience for young men but insists on purity for young women. When she learns that she has not been accepted into an important writing class at Harvard, Esther falls more deeply into depression. She agrees to see a psychiatrist, but it is soon clear to Esther that he will merely try to make her give up her intellectual and artistic ambitions and conform to a conventional ideal of womanhood. After suffering a botched electro-shock treatment at the doctor’s hands, Esther stops her treatment with him. Feeling increasingly helpless, Esther contemplates suicide. After considering several methods (and trying and failing in several darkly comic scenes), she takes an overdose of sleeping pills and hides in the basement. She is found and revived three days later. (It is noteworthy that this suicide attempt replicates Plath’s own suicide attempt as a young woman.) Esther is hospitalized and begins to receive psychological treatment from a sympathetic female psychiatrist, Dr. Nolan. Under Dr. Nolan’s treatment, Esther finally begins to achieve a complete sense of self and her future begins to seem brighter. Nevertheless, she faces still more challenges, including the suicide of a fellow patient and her disastrous first sexual experience.

The Bell Jar provides a startling portrait of the repressive social environment of the 1950s and, in Esther Greenwood, demonstrates the fracture of identity and stifled growth that were often the result of living within such rigid societal rules, especially for a woman of intellect and ambition. The novel has also been widely praised for its fine writing and for Plath’s lyrical and imagistic prose style.

SOURCES Alexander, Paul. Rough Magic: A Biography of Sylvia Plath. New York: Viking, 1991. Macpherson, Pat. Reflecting on The Bell Jar. New York: Routledge, 1991. Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. (Victoria Lucas, pseud.). London: Heinemann, 1963. ———. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950–1962, edited by Karen V. Kukil. London: Faber & Faber, 2000. Rose, Jacqueline. The Haunting of Sylvia Plath. London: Virago, 1991. Stevenson, Anne. Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989. Nancy Kuhl

BELLOW, SAUL (1915–2005) Winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Literature, Saul Bellow continues to fascinate readers with his absurd, alienated, and marginal characters who nonetheless manage to affirm the values of dignity, courage, and the irrepressible human spirit. As scholar Ellen Pifer concludes, Bellow’s heroes, “riddled” as they are “with contrary emotions,” tend to “waver uneasily between alternate commitments—to action, fellowship and worldly self-assertion on the one hand and to stillness, contemplation and solitude on the other” (Pifer, 1). Since his initial appearance in the canon of American literature along with Bernard MALAMUD, Norman MAILER, and others, Bellow has been widely admired for his stylistic diversity, his comic vision, his sympathetic portrayal of the wandering American, and his moral and spiritual seriousness. In a writing career that spanned six decades, he produced a score of novels and novellas, two volumes of short fiction, five plays, and several works of nonfiction. Bellow was the recipient of three National Book Awards, in 1954 for The ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH, in 1965 for HERZOG, and in 1971 for MR. SAMM-


LER’S PLANET. He also won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Humbold’s Gift. In addition to numerous honorary degrees, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1988, for his outstanding contributions to American literature, and the National Book Award’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990. Saul Bellow was born Solomon Bellows on June 10, 1915, in Lachine, Canada, to Russian immigrant parents Abraham Bellows, a businessman, and Liza Gordon Bellows. The Bellows family emigrated to the United States when Bellow was nine; he was reared in Chicago and educated at Northwestern University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, with honors, in 1937. After serving in the merchant marine during World War II (1944–45) and abandoning graduate school to become a writer, he worked for a time for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). His first novel, Dangling Man (1944), is a sensitive portrait of Joseph, the modern man whose limbolike existence, caused by the bureaucratic ineptitude of the draft board, ends with his decision to rush into the U.S. Army. In The Victim (1947) Asa Leventhal unwittingly causes the firing of an acquaintance, Kirby Albee, and then becomes the victim of Kirby’s rage and anti-Semitism. The Adventures of Augie March (1953) is Bellow’s first picaresque novel. Here Augie learns the value of a lifelong journey while simultaneously transcending illegal business. SEIZE THE DAY (1956) is an almost quintessential American novel. The character of Tommy Wilhelm, jobless, estranged from his wife and children, and, in the course of the novel, the hapless victim of his own unwise stock market investments, finally learns to follow the carpe diem message suggested by Bellow’s title. Generally conceded to be Bellow’s most exuberant novel, HENDERSON THE RAIN KING (1959) traces the wealthy and arrogant title character on his journey to Africa, where he confronts his own restlessness and the reality of death; Bellow is writing here about the almost biblical ideas of humility and love. In Herzog (1964), the title character, a history professor without a clear understanding of his own past, survives his wife’s affair with his best friend, but a rapprochement with reality is a bigger challenge. In Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970), a grimmer novel, a Nazi death-camp survivor literally

sees outward with one eye and inward with the other. He uses these abilities to comment on life after the Holocaust. Charlie Citrine, a Pulitzer Prize–winning dramatist and biographer, and the protagonist of Humboldt’s Gift (1975), battles with both artistic and rational forces, represented by the poet Humboldt and the Mafia capitalist Rinaldo Cantabile. They battle Faust-like for his soul. Humboldt wins; Citrine realizes that he can maintain his commitment to art by rejecting the allure of materialism. The Dean’s December (1982) is a somber novel, set in Chicago and Bucharest, Romania, that demonstrates the injustice and power inherent in urban crime and life and the ways in which it dehumanizes those individuals who are opting for humanistic values. The message comes to readers through the inner musings of Dean Albert Corde, a former journalist. More Die of Heartbreak (1987), set in a Chicago-like city, once again features intellectuals trying to survive amid materialism and urban sprawl. Kenneth Tractenberg, a Russian literature professor at a Midwest university, narrates the tale as he reports on Benn Crader, a botanist who is being used as a pawn by his fiancée and her surgeon father. The Bellarosa Connection (1989) examines the function of memory and identity in Harry Fonstein, a Russian Jew who was rescued from Nazi Germany by a group called the Bellarosa Society. A Theft (1989) focuses on the relationship between a stolen emerald ring and the identity of its owner, Clara Velde, a thrice-divorced midwestern writer based in New York. Ravelstein (2000), perhaps misunderstood as a fictionalized account of Bellow’s friendship with University of Chicago friend and literature professor Allan Bloom, tells the story of Ravelstein, who asks his close friend Chick to write his biography. After Ravelstein, a closeted gay, dies of AIDS, and Chick himself falls seriously ill, Chick writes a moving account of their friendship. Saul Bellow was married five times—to Anita Goshkin, a social worker, in 1937; Alexandra Tschacbasov, in 1956; Susan Glassman, a teacher, in 1961; Alexandra Ionesco Tuleca, a mathematician, in 1974; and Janis Freedman, a professor, in 1989. Since 1963 he has been a permanent member of the University of Chicago Committee on Social Thought. A television adaptation of Seize the Day, starring Robin Williams and featuring a cameo appearance by Bellow


himself, aired on PBS on May 1, 1987. Bellow died on April 5, 2005, at age 89. Most of Bellow’s manuscripts and correspondence are housed at the Regenstein Library of the University of Chicago. Several manuscripts of Seize the Day are held in the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

NOVELS AND NOVELLAS The Actual. New York: Viking, 1997. The Adventures of Augie March. New York: Viking, 1953. The Bellarosa Connection. New York: Penguin, 1989. Dangling Man. New York: Vanguard, 1944. The Dean’s December. New York: Harper, 1982. Henderson the Rain King. New York: Viking, 1959. Herzog. New York: Viking, 1964. Humboldt’s Gift. New York: Viking, 1975. More Die of Heartbreak. New York: Morrow, 1987. Mr. Sammler’s Planet. New York: Viking, 1970. Ravelstein. New York: Viking, 2000. Seize the Day. New York: Viking, 1956. Something to Remember Me By: Three Tales. New York: Viking, 1991. A Theft. New York: Penguin, 1989. The Victim. New York: Vanguard, 1947.

SOURCES Bach, Gerhard. The Critical Response to Saul Bellow. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1995. Bigler, Walter. Figures of Madness in Saul Bellow’s Longer Fiction. New York: Peter Lang, 1998. Bloom, Harold, ed. Saul Bellow. New York: Chelsea House, 1982. Bradbury, Malcolm. Saul Bellow. New York: Methuen, 1982. Cohen, Sarah Blacher. Saul Bellow’s Enigmatic Laughter. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1974. Detweiler, Robert. Saul Bellow: A Critical Essay. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1967. Dutton, Robert R. Saul Bellow. Boston: Twayne, 1971, rev. ed., 1982. Goldman, L. H. Saul Bellow’s Moral Vision: A Critical Study of the Jewish Experience. New York: Irvington, 1983. Klug, M. A. “Saul Bellow: The Hero in the Middle.” In The Flight from Women in the Fiction of Saul Bellow, edited by Joseph F. McCadden. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1980. Pifer, Ellen. Saul Bellow against the Grain. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990. Rovit, Earl, ed. Saul Bellow: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1975.

Scheer-Schaezler, Brigitte. Saul Bellow. New York: Ungar, 1972. Scott, Nathan A., Jr. Three American Moralists: Mailer, Bellow, Trilling. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968. Tanner, Tony. Saul Bellow. Edinburgh, Scotland: Oliver & Boyd, 1965. Trachtenberg, Stanley, ed. Critical Essays on Saul Bellow. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1979. Wasserman, Harriet. Handsome Is: Adventures with Saul Bellow, A Memoir. New York: Fromm International, 1997.

OTHER Nobel Prize Internet Archive. “Saul Bellow.” Available online. URL: http://nobelprizes.com/nobel/literature/1976a.html. Accessed May 29, 2005.


Published in 1987 to almost universal critical acclaim, Beloved was passed over for the National Book Award that same year. In response to the “predictable . . . marginalisation and neglect of black writing by a predominantly white literary establishment” (Plasa, 14) that this oversight represented, 48 prominent AfricanAmerican authors, artists, and intellectuals signed a letter that was published in January 1988 in the New York Times Review of Books celebrating MORRISON’s body of work and protesting the fact that she had been awarded neither the National Book Award nor the Pulitzer, despite her extraordinary literary achievements. Two months later, Beloved won the Pulitzer; five years after that, in October 1993, Morrison, “who, in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality” (Nobelprize.org.), was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Part of a trilogy that includes Jazz (1992) and Paradise (1998), Beloved is set in 1873 outside Cincinnati, Ohio, but includes numerous and extensive flashbacks that focus on various aspects of the slave era of American history: the horrors of the Middle Passage, the lives of slaves on a plantation, and the impact of the Fugitive Slave Act. The central character is Sethe, a former slave who escaped from Sweet Home, a Kentucky plantation, while pregnant and gave birth to her daughter, Denver, in the woods before crossing the


Ohio River into (temporary) freedom to be reunited with her other three children, two sons and a “crawling already?” baby girl, whom she had sent ahead to wait with her husband Halle’s mother, Baby Suggs. When slavecatchers come looking for them, Sethe flees to a woodshed where she intends to kill her children in order to prevent them from having to live as slaves. She succeeds in killing only one before the slavecatchers find her; her beloved crawling already? baby daughter. Once freed from jail, Sethe trades 10 minutes of sex for one word on her daughter’s tombstone, Beloved, and returns to 124 Bluestone, which is haunted by her dead child’s ghost. After the death of Baby Suggs from despair and the flight of Sethe’s sons, Buglar and Howard, Sethe and Denver live peacefully if somewhat claustrophobically with the ghost. The arrival of Paul D, a former Sweet Home slave, upsets the balance of the household as he initiates Sethe’s recollection of the past. He banishes the ghost, only to be later forced out in return by the presence of a strange and uncanny young woman named Beloved, who appears suddenly in the yard of Sethe’s home and proceeds to take over her life, forcing Denver to engage with the outside world for the first time as she turns to the community for help in keeping her mother alive in the face of Beloved’s powerful pull, and finally in banishing her. Like memory, the text defies linearity: multiple narrators, moving back and forward in time, give voice to a wide range of experiences, speaking in fragments, in poetry, into and out of Euro-American and AfricanAmerican traditions of literature, folklore, and song. Because of its complexity, “its richness and texture . . . Beloved can and should generate many and various, even contending, interpretations” (Christian, 5). Though critical interpretations and approaches to the novel vary widely, and a number of issues, such as who or what Beloved actually is (a ghost? a repressed memory? an actual person? a witch or succubus?) are disputed, all would agree that it is a text primarily concerned with the trope of memory and the past, particularly of African-Americans. Critics have seen in Beloved the literary influence of slave narratives, and Morrison has stated the importance of slave narratives and other historical documents to her project, but also

of HAWTHORNE and FAULKNER. Morrison has been reticent to allow for the insertion of her novel into the Euro-American literary tradition, observing that criticism that justifies itself by trying to identify black writers with accepted white writers is essentially dishonest and ignores the merits of the work per se (Morrison quoted in Tate, 122). It might be fair to say instead that Beloved dialogues with canonical works of American literature, taking up the stories excluded from those works and giving voice to those long silenced by American literature and history. Morrison, in a sense, speaks into the gaps of American literature and so restores unique and significant perspectives. But even as Beloved speaks into gaps, it also creates them. It is filled with fragmented narratives, broken families, and broken sequences, such as the house number 124 (1, 2, _, 4). Important lines such as the one repeated near the end of the novel, “this is not a story to pass on,” contain multiple meanings. Is this a story not to be passed on, as in passed over? Or a story not to be passed on, as in told again? Both meanings are equally valid in a novel filled with such paradoxes. A love story, a ghost story. A story of mother-love under conditions that rendered mothering impossible. A story of memory and desire, re-memories and erasures, Beloved is a text that frames absence even as it recovers stories missing from American literary and historical discourses. Ultimately, what Sethe comes to learn is that the past cannot be refused but instead must be re-fused: recognized, claimed, and pieced back together. There are spaces that cannot be filled again, losses that are not to be forgotten or gotten over. Memory, like love, lives on, and Morrison’s characters must embrace as best they can the love and life left to them in the aftermath of terrible loss. This is not a story to pass on.

SOURCES Andrews, William, and Nellie McKay, eds. Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’: A Case Book. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Burnett, Pamela. “Figurations of Rape and the Supernatural in Beloved,” PMLA 112 (1997): 418–427. Christian, Barbara. “Fixing Methodologies: Beloved,” Cultural Critique 24 (Spring 1993): 5–15. Harris, Trudier. Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991.


Horvitz, Deborah. “Nameless Ghosts: Possession and Dispossession in Beloved,” Studies in American Fiction 17 (1989): 157–167. Lawrence, David. “Fleshly Ghosts and Ghostly Flesh: The Word and the Body in Beloved,” Studies in American Fiction 19 (1991): 189–201. Plasa, Carl, ed. Toni Morrison, ‘Beloved’. Columbia Critical Guides. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998. Tate, Claudia, ed. Black Women Writers at Work. New York: Continuum, 1984.

OTHER Nobelprize.org. “Toni Morrison—Nobel Lecture.” Available online. URL: http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/ 1993/morrison-lecture.html. Accessed May 29, 2005. Aimee Berger

BENÍTEZ, SANDRA (SONDRA BENÍTEZ ABLES) (1941– ) Sandra Benítez, author of four critically acclaimed novels set in Mexico and El Salvador, owes much of her appeal to her simple yet elegant style, although she writes about complicated human beings with stunning insight. Readers have been captivated by Benítez’s depictions of both the working class and the wealthy, and by her ability to evoke the places and events that shape their lives against complex social, political, and geographic backdrops. She is adept, too, at interjecting cultural ambiance through judiciously selected Spanish phrases. Benítez’s numerous awards include a 1999 Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for Bitter Grounds. Sandra Benítez was born on March 26, 1941, in Washington, D.C., to James Q. Ables, a diplomat and writer originally from Missouri, and Marta A. Benítez, a secretary and translator originally from Puerto Rico. She was educated in El Salvador, where she lived until she was 14 years old, and at Truman State University, where she earned a bachelor of science degree (1962) and a master of arts degree (1974). After divorcing her first husband, Benítez married James F. Kondrick, a writer and game inventor, in 1980. Her first novel, A Place Where the Sea Remembers, was published in 1993 when Benítez was 52 years old. Set in Santiago, a Mexican fishing village, it features a waiter named Candelario who loses his job and learns that his wife Chayo is pregnant with their first child; they must decide whether to break their promise to adopt the unborn

child of Chayo’s sister Marta, a rape victim. In the words of a Publisher’s Weekly reviewer, this moving first novel presents the lives of a variety of women in their “mystical, fatalistic world” filled with tragedy and death as well as humor and birth (236). Her second novel, Bitter Grounds (1997), grounded in the historical and political milieu of upheaval and uncertainty, explores the lives of three generations of Salvadoran women, both the wealthy (grandmother Elena Contrera, daughter Magda, granddaughter Flor) and the servant class (Maria Mercedes and Jacinta). Benítez also counterpoints the events of the Latin American soap opera, or radio novela, to the real-life actions of her characters. Benítez’s third novel, The Weight of All Things, takes place during the 1980s civil war in El Salvador. It presents the devastating effects of war through the eyes of nine-year-old Nicolas Veras, who, when his mother is killed while protecting him, trudges to his grandfather’s hill farm only to find the village razed and the farmhouse occupied by guerrillas. In Night of the Radishes (2004), her most recent novel, Benítez returns to Mexico. Set initially in Minnesota, it features Annie Hart Rush (many of whose family members die), who embarks on a quest for her brother Hub, who has not been seen since he ran away from home at age 17 nearly two decades ago. On her journey to Oaxaca, Annie meets Joe Cruz, a Berkeley professor, and sees her present and past converge on December 23, the “Night of the Radishes.” Benitez lives with her husband in Edina, Minnesota, and is working on an unusual memoir about illness.

NOVELS Bitter Grounds. New York: Hyperion, 1997. Night of the Radishes. New York: Hyperion, 2004. A Place Where the Sea Remembers. Minneapolis, Minn.: Coffee House Press, 1993. The Weight of All Things. New York: Hyperion, 2001.

SOURCES Belejack, Barbara, Review of Bitter Grounds, The Women’s Review of Books 15, no. 9 (June 1998): 24. Benítez, Sandra. “Home Views.” In A Place Called Home: Twenty Writing Women Remember, edited by Mickey Pearlman, 7–20. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996. Caron, Andrea. Review of The Weight of All Things, Library Journal 125, no. 20 (Dec 2000): 184.


Fill, Grace. Review of Bitter Grounds, Booklist 94, no. 2 (September 15, 1997): 207–208. Review of A Place Where the Sea Remembers, Publishers Weekly 240, no. 29 (July 19, 1993), p. 236.

OTHER Voices from the Gaps, Women Writers of Color. “Sandra Benítez.” Available online. URL: http://voices.cla.umn.edu/vg/Bios/ entries//benitez_sandra.html. Accessed May 29, 2005.

BENITO CERENO HERMAN MELVILLE (1855) The grim novella Benito Cereno, written in 1855 during a transitional period in MELVILLE’s career, represents a remarkable fusion of the themes and techniques that characterize his art. F. O. Mathiesson calls it “one of the most sensitively poised pieces of writing” Melville ever wrote (373). His early sea-adventure novels had been relatively well received by the critics, but his later novels explored philosophical ideas in long, Shakespearean passages. His masterpiece MOBY-DICK (1851) combined these additions with the sea-adventure, while PIERRE (1852) was in the form of the gothic novel. Critics and book buyers either could not or would not follow Melville into these new waters, and when Melville began publishing his short stories in Putnam’s (1853), he was trying once again to gain the ear of the reading public. Along with “The Encantadas,” critics considered Benito Cereno a return to Melville’s gift for writing tales about the sea. Stung by the failure of Moby-Dick, Melville moved away from the autobiographical elements of his earlier novels and drew on the travel narrative published in 1817 by real-life Amaso Delano, which he freely adapted to meet the demands of his art. Touches of the gothic abound in the gloomy tone of the descriptions, and Shakespeare echoes throughout the tale, notably in the moral ambiguities of the ending. Melville also turned to abolitionist literature for ways to treat the question of race (Uncle Tom’s Cabin, for example, was serialized in 1851). The narrative begins off St. Maria, an island near the southern tip of Chile, when Amaso Delano, captain of the Bachelor’s Delight, encounters an unknown ship. Delano, “a man of such native simplicity as to be incapable of satire or irony” (184), epitomizes 19th-century American attitudes: optimistic and full of goodwill

and faith in human progress, he is nevertheless racist, anti-intellectual, and naive. Melville subtly but unmistakably satirizes him throughout the story, underscoring each instance where Delano misreads or oversimplifies the world, which, like the seascape itself, is “gray” and “fixed” like fate, dominated by a chiaroscuro of “shadows present, foreshadowing shadows to come” (161). Delano cannot make out the other ship through this murk, and despite the “lawlessness and loneliness of the spot” (161), refuses to take precautions against possible treachery. Though observant, detached, and rational, Delano misperceives and misjudges nearly every detail of the other ship; the grays of the atmosphere cloud his judgment as well as his vision. The appearance of the other ship unsettles him immediately, and this vague foreboding casts shadows across his mind, causing him to imagine the ship, on the one hand, as a “whitewashed monastery” in the Pyrenees populated by “Black Friars” (163), and on the other, as a vessel whose “keel seemed laid . . . and she launched, from Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones” (164). Melville exploits these two images—of the multicultural Christianity that had once flourished on the border between Catholic France and Muslim Spain, and of the cultural upheaval and spiritual isolation found in the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible—to isolate Delano in the ambiguous moral atmosphere of the story. Delano banishes his misgivings as irrational and boards the other ship to offer assistance. Once aboard, he meets the ship’s ostensible captain, a frail Spaniard named Cereno, and his ostensible servant, the wiry and officious Babo, who relate the story of the strange “fever” that decimated the ship’s company. Babo had fabricated this tale to conceal the slave revolt, in which he, seconded by the muscular giant Atufal, had taken control of the ship. During this tale, many details of life onboard the other ship continue to unsettle Delano: the spectacle of mute Atufal in chains, the slave who strikes a sailor without punishment, the curious incident with the knot, the hidden meanings behind the glances of sailor and slave alike. Yet he continues to rationalize away each instance as signs confirming the weakness and irregularity of Cereno. Delano likewise profits nothing from the name of the other ship, the San Dominik, which suggests both


the medieval Catholic saint who founded the order of monks known as Black Friars, and the Caribbean island of San Domingo, site of a recent slave revolt. Either suggestion might have warned him of his mistakes: St. Dominic preached human frailty to heretics who thought they were morally superior to the world (as Delano does), while the slave revolt clearly indicated how untenable was the racism (like Delano’s) being used to underwrite slavery. But Delano cannot hear these warnings, and finds himself forced into a series of desperate actions as Cereno abandons his own ship to seek refuge with Delano, who is forced to overpower the slave ship and return with it to Spanish territory. The authorities who conduct the investigation at first think that Cereno exaggerates the events of the revolt but are forced to believe him after other sailors confirm even the most fantastic details (239). Melville believes the deposition is the key that opens all the secrets of the matter, and he gives it in its original form. But he turns back to narrative for his conclusion, which admits that the nature of the events themselves have made him choose this unorthodox method of telling the story (255). This method, which anticipates certain postmodern ideas about narrative, hides something unspoken and unspeakable in the tale, something even Melville cannot find words for: Atufal remains mute about the revolt, which Cereno describes as “past all speech” (209), while the severed head of Babo plainly communicates, “since I cannot do deeds, I will not speak words” (258). Too late, Delano discovers the reality behind his comment: “this slavery breeds ugly passions in man” (216). The cannons of Delano rescue Cereno from the medieval gloom of his cabin, but his logic cannot force the fatalism from his heart; his cutlasses, likewise, might have deterred Babo from standing over Cereno like an inquisitor in that cabin and holding a straight razor to his throat, but the racism of Delano ensures that others like Babo will rise up against an unjust system. By forcing the reader to infer and piece together these conclusions, Melville dramatizes the difficulties of speaking about the manifold evils of slavery; even Melville cannot resolve these tensions into proper literary form. Melville cannot find a way to make revolt against the slave system into a triumphant discovery

and revelation of the self, as it was in the 10th chapter of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative a mere decade earlier. Babo and Atufal end the story exiled and divided not just from their homeland, but from themselves, and this tragic anticlimax anticipates the responses of 20thcentury literature toward problems of race and culture.

SOURCES Bloom, Harold, ed. Herman Melville: Bloom’s Major Short Story Writers. New York: Chelsea House, 1999. Matthieson, F. O. American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman. London: Oxford University Press, 1941. Melville, Herman. Billy Budd and Other Stories. New York: Penguin, 1986. Pahl, Dennis. Architects of the Abyss: The Indeterminate Fictions of Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1989. Christopher Vilmar

BERGER, THOMAS LOUIS (1924– ) Thomas Berger, according to scholar and critic Brooks Landon, is America’s “most undercelebrated writer,” and a novelist and playwright of “stunning achievements” (Landon, “A Secret Too Good to Keep”). Best known for his magnum opus of the old West, Little Big Man (1964), Berger was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his 1983 novel, The Feud. Some of Berger’s protagonists reappear in more than one novel, and he is adept at depicting spies, seduction, feuds, survival, the future, murders, and detectives. According to Landon, Berger’s characters are “almost never in control” over their situations, and “consistently find themselves outmaneuvered, outsmarted, insulted, and imposed upon” (Landon, “A Secret Too Good to Keep”). That Berger creates so many fictional scenarios to portray his darkly absurd views of contemporary Americans is a tribute to his abundant talent. Thomas Berger was born on July 20, 1924, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Thomas Charles Berger, a public school business manager, and Mildred Bubbe Berger. He was educated at the University of Cincinnati, earning his bachelor’s degree, with honors, in 1948. Berger served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946, and married Jeanne Redpath, an artist, in 1950. The couple met at a writer’s workshop at the New School for Social


Research, where Berger’s fellow students included Jack KEROUAC, Mario PUZO, and William STYRON. His first novel, the mock-heroic Crazy in Berlin (1958), based on Berger’s army experiences, describes Carlo Reinhart’s comic adventures in Germany and his disoriented return to a changed, pragmatic, and complacent America. The second book in the Reinhart quartet, Reinhart in Love (1962) continues to show the protagonist as a disoriented and disillusioned middle-class citizen who even bungles his own suicide attempt. In the novel Vital Parts (1970), Reinhart trades his freedom, individuality, and self-esteem for a corporate position in a firm that claims to freeze dead humans until their ailments can be cured sometime in the future. Reinhart’s Women (1981) completes the quartet; taken together, critics view the novels as a four-decade-long perspective on the sociology of 20th-century America. One of Berger’s most intriguing novelistic accomplishments is the way he parodies literary genres: Little Big Man is a satire on the American western, and many critics believe it to be the finest western novel of the 1960s, some say of the entire 20th century. Jack Crabb, the hero, frequently compared to James Fenimore COOPER’s Natty Bumppo, is a scout, hunter, marksman and intimate friend to the Cheyenne, Old Lodge Skins; the novel ridicules the racist view of whites toward Native Americans. Opening with three gruesome murders on Christmas Eve, Killing Time (1967) employs the perspective of a brutal murderer, Joe Detweiler, who views himself as killing time, not people, whose souls he believes he liberates. Berger’s 1973 novel, Regiment of Women, parodies the futuristic novel and portrays a society in which the usual roles of men and women have been reversed. Sneaky People (1975) is a parody of the midwestern novel, featuring childish Buddy Sandifer and his simplistic plot to murder Naomi, his shadowy wife, while he has a long-term affair with Laverne, a prostitute. Who Is Teddy Villanova? (1977) satirizes the hard-boiled detective novel through Russel Wren, English instructor turned private eye, as he tracks down international criminal Teddy Villanova. Arthur Rex (1978) parodies the Arthurian legend and is notable for its presentation of the complex women of Camelot. Berger scholars compare Neighbors (1980) to a Franz Kafka novel since it uses dark, absurd humor to depict

the unsettling changes in the life of quiet Earl Keese. Harry and Ramona move into the house next door and disrupt Keese’s physical world and the reader’s view of language, individual rights, and personal freedom. The Feud (1983), which lost to William KENNEDY’s IRONWEED for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize, won rave reviews for its presentation of a deeply felt conflict between the Dolf Beeler family of Hornbeck and the Bud Bullard family of nearby Millville. Nowhere (1985), a satirical rendition of the traditional spy novel, parodies such historical constructs as the cold war. In Being Invisible (1987), Fred Wagner can disappear at will, but expresses distaste for the private acts and small crimes his invisibility allows him to witness. The Houseguest (1988) is, according to reviewer Paul Gray, a novel of “comic catastrophe” about the “stable” family life of Doug and Audrey Graves. They finally realize that their houseguest is in fact an intruder uninvited by either spouse (Gray); his outrageous behavior— including the seduction of their daughter—invites anger, revenge, and thoughts of murder. Changing the Past (1990) documents the results of the protagonist’s unusual opportunity to relive his earlier years in ways of his choosing. Orrie’s Story (1990) uses the classical Oresteia to tell the tale of his modern namesake at the end of World War II. Meeting Evil (1992) opens as protagonist John Felton answers his doorbell early one Monday morning and sees Richie, a motorist who says he needs help; from this moment, John is inextricably drawn into evil and murder. In Robert Crews (1994), the alcoholic protagonist, like British novelist Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, is unprepared when his small plane crashes into a lake in the woods. In Suspects (1996), a mother and daughter, Donna Howland and infant Amanda, are murdered in a plot more grotesque, gothic, and fantastic than those of conventional murder stories. The Return of Little Big Man (1999), a sequel published 35 years after the original, again features Jack Crabb, as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and Amanda Teasdale, amalgam of the New Woman, replace the old West of Jack’s youth. Thomas Berger’s 22nd novel, Best Friends (2003), demonstrates that he has lost none of his abilities: As reviewer David Madden notes, the old and valued friendship between Sam Grandy and Roy Courtright


founders as the latter becomes involved with “family intrigue, deception, financial impropriety, and sex”; Sam’s heart attack becomes the occasion for a reevaluation of their relationship. Berger writes in Palisades, New York, and lives on the banks of the Hudson River, where he recently completed his 23rd novel, Adventures of the Artificial Woman, a novel that Berger himself describes as “a little farce about an animatronic female with a life of her own, which will be published next year.” Although he denies plans for a 24th novel, he admits that he has “several ideas” for one (Berger, quoted in Landon, “Thomas Berger”). The movie version of Little Big Man, starring Dustin Hoffman, was released in 1970; the movie version of Neighbors, starring John Belushi, was a Universal Studios release in 1981.

NOVELS Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel. New York: Lawrence/Delacorte, 1978. Being Invisible. Boston: Little, Brown, 1987. Best Friends. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Changing the Past. Boston: Little, Brown, 1989. Crazy in Berlin. New York: Scribner, 1958. Granted Wishes: Three Stories. New York: Lawrence/Delacorte, 1984. The Feud. New York: Lawrence/Delacorte, 1983. The Houseguest. Boston: Little, Brown, 1988. Killing Time. New York: Dial, 1967. Little Big Man. New York: Dial, 1964. Meeting Evil. Boston: Little, Brown, 1992. Neighbors. New York: Lawrence/Delacorte, 1980. Orrie’s Story. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990. Nowhere. New York: Lawrence/Delacorte, 1985. Regiment of Women. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1973. Reinhart in Love. New York: Scribner, 1962. Reinhart’s Women. New York: Lawrence/Delacorte, 1981. The Return of Little Big Man. Boston: Little, Brown, 1999. Robert Crews. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994. Sneaky People. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1975. Suspects: A Novel. New York: Morrow, 1996. Vital Parts. New York: Baron, 1970. Who Is Teddy Villanova? New York: Delacorte/Seymour Lawrence, 1977.

SOURCES Dippie, Brian W. “Jack Crabb and the Sole Survivors of Custer’s Last Stand,” Western American Literature 4 (Fall 1969): 189–202.

Fetrow, Fred M. “The Function of the External Narrator in Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man,” Journal of Narrative Technique 5 (January 1975): 57–65. Gurian, Jay. “Style in the Literary Desert: Little Big Man,” Western American Literature 3 (Winter 1969): 285–296. Hughes, Douglas. “The Schlemiel as Humanist: Thomas Berger’s Carlo Reinhart,” Cithara 15, 1 (November 1975): 3–21. Landon, Brooks. Thomas Berger. Boston: Twayne, 1989. Oliva, Leo E. “Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man as History,” Western American Literature 8 (Spring–Summer 1973): 33–54. Madden, David W. Critical Essays on Thomas Berger. New York: G. K. Hall, 1995. Wylder, Delbert E. “Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man as Literature,” Western American Literature 3 (Winter 1969): 273–284.

OTHER Gray, Paul. Review of The Houseguest. Time (April 11, 1988). HighBeam Research. Available online. URL: http://www. highbeam.com/library/doc3.asp?DOCID=1G1:6503097. Accessed May 30, 2005. Landon, Brooks. “A Secret Too Good to Keep. (Thomas Berger’s Novels Go Unfairly Unnoticed).” World and I (October 1, 2003). HighBeam Research. Available online. URL: http://www.highbeam.com/library/doc3.asp?DOCID= 1G1:111579368. Accessed May 30, 2005. Zinowitz, Michael Leigh. “The Western as Postmodern Satiric History: Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man.” Clio (January 1, 1999). HighBeam Research. Available online. URL: http://www.highbeam.com/library/doc3.asp?DOCID=1G1: 55588220. Accessed May 30, 2005.

BERRIAULT, GINA (1926–1999)

Gina Berriault enjoyed a career that spanned several decades. She was a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, both for her short-story collection, Women in Their Beds. Berriault was also the author of four critically acclaimed novels. Typically set in the San Francisco area, these novels won praise for her precise and lyrical depictions of characters in crisis, perhaps most memorably women set adrift from their traditionally male-anchored worlds. Gina Berriault was born Arline Shandling on January 1, 1926, in Long Beach, California. After graduating from high school, Berriault married and later divorced John V. Berriault, a musician, and taught cre-


ative writing at San Francisco State University. Her first novel, The Descent (1960), featured a college history professor appointed to a cabinet-level position in Washington, D.C. He learns the futility of dealing with duplicitous politicians who are willing to start a nuclear war to enhance their power. The novel was followed by Conference of Victims (1962), about the effects of one man’s suicide on two generations of his family and on his mistress, and The Son (1966), about one woman’s desperate attempts at redefining herself through sex and seduction, including incest with her son. Berriault’s fourth novel, The Lights of Earth (1984), focuses on Ilona Lewis, a writer faced with the sudden success and fame of her lover, Martin Vanderson, a writer, who abandons her for another woman. That same year a film was made from her short story “The Stone Boy,” about a boy whose accidental killing of his brother renders him mute. Berriault wrote the screenplay for the movie, which starred Glenn Close and Robert Duvall. Berriault was the recipient of two O. Henry awards and fiction prizes from The Paris Review. After a brief illness, she died in Sausalito, California, on July 15, 1999.

NOVELS Conference of Victims. New York: Atheneum, 1962. The Descent. New York: Atheneum, 1960. The Lights of Earth. San Francisco, Calif.: North Point Press, 1984. The Son. New York: New American Library, 1966.

SOURCES Lyons, Bonnie, and Bill Oliver. “ ‘Don’t I Know You?’: An Interview with Gina Berriault,” The Literary Review 37 (Summer 1994): 714–723. McQuade, Molly. “Gina Berriault’s Fiction,” Chicago Tribune Book World, February 6, 1983, 10–12. Shelnutt, Eve, ed. The Confidence Woman, Twenty-Six Women Writers at Work, 129–132. Atlanta, Ga.: Long Street, 1991.

BERRY, WENDELL (ERDMAN) (1934– ) Although he made his name as an award-winning essayist and poet, Wendell Berry has amazed readers with his talent and versatility; he has written five novels and three collections of short stories, and he has won the Friends of American Writers Award for his

novel The Memory of Old Jack (1974). All his writing evokes love and respect for the land, for Berry believes that individuals must live in harmony with nature and with their community if society is to survive. As scholar Andrew A. Angyal notes, Berry’s writings celebrate the best traditions of self-sufficient agricultural communities “before it is lost forever” (Angyal, ix). A contemporary of poet Gary Snyder and Stanford classmate of Ken KESEY, both of whom have praised his work, Berry has been called an heir to 19th-century nature writer Henry David Thoreau and compared with novelist Edward Abbey and essayist Annie Dillard. His creation of a mythical fictional place—Port William, Kentucky—has prompted comparisons with William FAULKNER and others who invent their own fictional places. Wendell Berry was born on August 5, 1934, in Henry County, Kentucky. He attended the University of Kentucky at Lexington and graduated with a B.A. in English in 1956, and a master’s degree in English the following year. He married Tanya Amyx in 1957. In 1958, Berry moved with his family to the West Coast, where for the next two years he studied, wrote, and taught in the creative writing program at Stanford University. Before returning to his native state in 1964, Berry taught at New York University. In Nathan Coulter (1960), Berry’s first novel, a bildungsroman, the title character tells the story of his Kentucky farming family in the years prior to World War II. This carefully crafted novel traces Nathan’s initiation into adulthood and his commitment to the land. A Place on Earth: A Novel (1967) introduces the setting of Port William, Kentucky, and features Mat Feltner, a tobacco farmer, his wife Margaret, and their son Virgil, who is killed in World War II, Virgil’s widow, Hannah, and Jack Beechum, the crusty protagonist of Berry’s third novel, The Memory of Old Jack. The loss of the son to whom he intended to leave his farm devastates Mat, who consoles himself by working the land. In The Memory of Old Jack Berry provides an extended picture of Port William, locates the action on one September day in 1952, and parallels the passing of the old patriarch Jack Beechum to the demise of the old small-farming tradition. Omnipresent in the novel is Berry’s now familiar belief that one cannot really own the land, one can provide careful stewardship of it. He reiterates this


idea in Remembering: A Novel (1988), and in his most recent novel, Jayber Crow: The Life Story of Jayber Crow, Barber, of the Port William Membership as Written by Himself (2000). Wendell Berry, who taught at the University of Kentucky for many years, returned to full-time farming and writing some years ago. He lives and writes on Lanes Landing Farm, the property he purchased in Port Royal, Kentucky, close to where his great-grandfather had also farmed.

NOVELS Jayber Crow: The Life Story of Jayber Crow, Barber, of the Port William Membership as Written by Himself. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000. The Memory of Old Jack. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1974. Nathan Coulter: A Novel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960. A Place on Earth: A Novel. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1967. Remembering: A Novel. San Francisco, Calif.: North Point Press, 1988.

SOURCES Angyal, Andrew J. Wendell Berry. New York: Twayne, 1995. Ditsky, John. “Wendell Berry: Homage to the Apple Tree,” Modern Poetry Studies 2, no. 1 (1971): 7–15. Hass, Robert. “Wendell Berry: Finding the Land,” Modern Poetry Studies 2, no. 1 (1971): 16–38. Hicks, Jack. “Wendell Berry’s Husband to the World: A Place on Earth,” American Literature 50 (May 1979): 238–254. Merchant, Paul, ed. Wendell Berry. Lewiston, Idaho: Confluence, 1991. Morgan, Speer. “Wendell Berry: A Fatal Singing,” Southern Review 10 (October 1974): 865–877. Slovic, Scott. Seeking Awareness in American Nature Writing: Henry Thoreau, Annie Dillard, Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, Barry Lopez. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1992. Williamson, Bruce. “The Plowboy Interview: Wendell Berry,” Mother Earth News, no. 20 (March 1973): 6–12.

BETTS, DORIS (1932– ) Doris Betts is the prize-winning author of six novels and three shortstory collections. Despite her southern settings, Betts has resisted the label “southern woman writer,” and is similarly resistant to being labeled a Catholic writer. Her fiction usually focuses on working-class characters with high school educations; Betts believes that the “writer’s duty is to put into words what it is like to be a human being in this world, even for the inarticulate”

(quoted in Evans, x). Her 1981 novel, Heading West, was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and Souls Raised from the Dead (1994), winner of the Southern Book Award, was named one of the 20 best books of 1994 by the New York Times. Her most recent novel, The Sharp Teeth of Love (1997) was a critically acclaimed success as well. Doris Waugh Betts was born on June 4, 1932, in Statesville, North Carolina, to William Elmore Waugh, a mill worker, and Mary Ellen Freeze Waugh, who was active in the Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church. Betts has acknowledged the significance of Christianity in her writing. She was educated at Women’s College (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) but left after three years to marry Lowry Matthews Betts, a law student, in 1952. Betts published her first novel, Tall Houses in Winter in 1957; the protagonist, Ryan Godwin, returns to the South when he learns he is dying of cancer. The novel won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award, as did her second novel, The Scarlet Thread (1964), a chronicle of the rise and fall of the Sam Allen family and their southern community. The River to Pickle Beach (1972), her third novel, focuses on Bebe Sellers and is set during the stormy and often violent 1968 political upheavals. In Heading West, the first Betts novel to gain national attention, librarian Nancy Finch is kidnapped in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but, despite all the dangers she encounters after she escapes, she returns home to Greenway and, in an ending whose merits and meaning critics continue to debate, she marries old friend Hunt Thatcher and continues to head west in true American fashion. Souls Raised from the Dead ponders issues of spirituality, motherhood, and fatherhood as the 13year-old Mary Grace Thompson dies from kidney disease; partially responsible is her mother, Christine, whose vanity and self-absorption prevents her from donating a kidney to her daughter. Her father, Frank, struggles with her death and the role of faith in his life. In her most recent novel, The Sharp Teeth of Love, another novel of southerners in the West, the main characters Lula Stone and Madeline Lunatsky become fascinated with the story of the ill-fated Donner Party


who resorted to cannibalism when they were trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter of 1846. During the parallel modern journey Lula, formerly a depressed anorexic, leaves Stephen Grier behind in California and heads to the Midwest and the Wisconsin farm of her new love, Paul Cowan. Betts’s later novels are about female journeys to selfdiscovery. On her retirement in 2001 from the Department of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she taught for more than 35 years, the Doris Betts Distinguished Professorship in Creative Writing was created. The Doris Betts Fiction Prize is an annual prize competition open to any North Carolina resident, and the Doris Betts Collection of manuscripts and correspondence is housed at the Mugar Memorial Library at Boston University. Doris Betts lives with her husband on Araby, their Chatham County farm near Chapel Hill, where they raise Arabian horses.

NOVELS Heading West. New York: Knopf, 1981. The River to Pickle Beach. New York: Harper & Row, 1972. The Scarlet Thread. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. The Sharp Teeth of Love. New York: Knopf, 1997. Souls Raised from the Dead. New York: Knopf, 1994. Tall Houses in Winter. New York: Putnam, 1957.

SOURCES Brown, W. Dale. “Interview with Doris Betts,” Southern Quarterly 34, no. 2 (1996): 91–104. Evans, Elizabeth. “Conversations with Doris Betts,” South Carolina Review 28, no. 2 (1996): 4–8. ———. Doris Betts. New York: Twayne, 1997. Holman, David Marion. “Faith and the Unanswerable Questions: The Fiction of Doris Betts,” Southern Literary Journal 15, no. 1 (1982): 15–23. Ketchin, Susan. “Doris Betts: Resting on the Bedrock of Original Sin.” In The Christ-Haunted Landscape: Faith and Doubt in Southern Literature, 230–259. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994. McFee, Michael. “Reading a Small History in a Universal Light: Doris Betts, Clyde Edgerton, and the Triumph of True Regionalism,” Pembroke Magazine 23 (1991): 59–67. Powell, Dannye Romine. “Doris Betts.” In Parting the Curtains: Interviews with Southern Writers, 15–31. WinstonSalem, N.C.: John F. Blair, 1994. Scura, Dorothy M. “Doris Betts at Mid-Career: Her Voice and Her Art.” In Southern Women Writers: The New Gener-

ation, edited by Tonette Bond Inge, 161–179. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990. Wolfe, George. “The Unique Voice: Doris Betts.” In Kite-Flying and Other Irrational Acts. Conversations with Twelve Southern Writers, edited by John Carr, 149–173. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972.

BID ME TO LIVE H. D. HILDA DOOLITTLE (1960) The last of H. D.’s many autobiographical novels, Bid Me to Live (A Madrigal) portrays the struggles of a female writer to realize her personal and artistic identity. The entire novel is mediated through the mind of Julia Ashton (H. D.), moving from the breakup of her marriage with Rafe (the British poet Richard Aldington) set in wartime London to a liberating relationship with the young composer Vane or Vanio (Cecil Gray) in the Cornwall countryside. Overlying this general movement is Julia’s vexed relationship with Rico Frederick (D. H. Lawrence). The novel is also an important example of World War I fiction from a female point of view, in which Julia experiences the war as shattering the identity she had before the war as both a woman and a writer, and the novel recounts her psychological struggle out of war shock to a new and less dependent realization of herself. Bid Me to Live is stylistically demanding, and in characteristic modernist manner, Julia’s thoughts seemingly drift at random, relying heavily on free association and the repetition of key images to establish a sense of coherence. Through roughly the first half of the novel, Julia’s thoughts attempt to stop time or to escape the present as a consequence of the difficulty she has in coming to terms with her immediate situation. In some scenes, such as when she is confronted by her husband’s mistress, Bella Carter (Dorothy Yorke), the outward action is minimal and static, yet Julia’s thoughts consist mostly of flashbacks, indicating her confusion and discomfort. At other times, she focuses on the physical details of her room in an effort to achieve mental stability while blocking out the outside. This somewhat claustrophobic style begins to give way when she meets Vane, particularly when she moves out to the Cornwall countryside. The primary reasons for the breakdown of Julia’s marriage are twofold: Some time prior to the opening of the novel, Julia suffered a


stillbirth, as a result of which she is afraid of getting pregnant again, and Rafe’s war experiences have had the inevitable effect of emphasizing his masculinity while repressing his more sensitive artistic nature. With Julia’s acquiescence, Rafe is sexually involved with Bella, who lives in the same building, although he remains strongly attached to Julia aesthetically and intellectually—as he remarks to Julia: “I love you, I desire l’autre” (56). Reluctantly, Julia comes to the painful realization that she cannot recapture the balanced, aesthetically based relationship she and Rafe had before the war, which is glimpsed in flashbacks, so she gropes toward a new sense of herself. It is Rico’s presence that hovers most persistently in Julia’s mind, although his appearance in the immediate action of the novel is quite brief, when he and his wife, Elsa (Frieda Lawrence), take temporary refuge in the Ashtons’ London apartment after being evicted from their Cornwall cottage because Elsa is German. Psychologically, Julia turns to Rico because he was among the first to give her affirmation as a poet in the prewar period, and so he serves as partial compensation for the loss of Rafe. Rico challenges Julia to “kick over your tiresome house of life” (80), but, like Rafe, is dismissive of aspects of her writing. During the Fredericks’ brief stay with the Ashtons, Julia interprets Rico’s ambiguous statement, “you are there for all eternity; our love is written in blood . . . for all eternity” (78), as an invitation to enter into a closer relationship, only to have him withdraw from her touch “like a hurt animal” (81), when she attempts to approach him the next day. As several commentators have pointed out, in her depiction of Rico, H. D. implicitly critiques Lawrence who in his works advocated the body, touch, and sexuality, but in his own life was often rather inhibited. With the departure of the Fredericks, Vane arrives and literally draws Julia out of the closed shell of her room and debilitating relationships by persuading her to venture out, despite a Zeppelin air raid, for dinner and a film. The move out of London into the Cornwall countryside is clearly a progression away from war and her past into a setting of spiritual renewal and redefinition. In contrast to the cramped and frequently intruded-upon apartment in the city, she has her own workroom, and when she goes out for walks, she feels

in touch with natural and archaic powers. Although her relationship with Vane is in a sense a revival of the artistically balanced relationship she previously had with Rafe, Julia continues to feel the prevailing presence of Rico, who she senses is responsible for sending Vane to her. Unexpectedly in the penultimate chapter, the narrative switches to the first person as Julia directly addresses Rico in a notebook she does not intend to show him. This reflects Julia’s renewed sense of confidence as she replays a common H. D. strategy with respect to various male mentor figures and lovers in her life, who have in one way or another rejected her or failed to fairly understand her writing. On the one hand, Julia needs to resist psychologically the sting of Rico’s criticisms of her work, as well as his spurning of a more intimate relationship. At the same time she wants to sustain their relationship on a newly conceived basis that does not depend on whether or not he reciprocates. This deeper basis is aesthetic and spiritual, and the concluding pages of the novel are a paean to the creative spirit. Julia adopts the term gloire (taken from a poem by Lawrence) and uses the example of van Gogh’s paintings, in which, for example, a tree is not merely the result of the creative impulse but is its very embodiment: “Because of him alive in the cypress tree, alive in his mother, the cypress would be deified” (181). Identifying this sense of gloire with the maternal creativity of birth, Julia insists on a nongendered source of creativity that Rico is effectively repressing in his gender-based criticisms of her work. Thus the novel ends not only with Julia’s assertion of her own gloire and the authenticity of her work, but also with an implicit challenge to Rico to rediscover the true springs of his own genius.

SOURCES Friedman, Susan Stanford. Penelope’s Web: Gender, Modernity, H. D.’s Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. H. D. Bid Me to Live (A Madrigal). New York: Dial Press, 1960. Hollenberg, Donna Krolik. H. D.: The Poetics of Childbirth and Creativity. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1991. Milicia, Joseph. “Bid Me to Live: Within the Storm.” In H. D. Woman and Poet, edited by Michael King, 279–288. Orono, Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 1986.


Weatherhead, A. Kingsley. “Style in H. D.’s Novels.” In H. D.: Modern Critical Views, edited by Harold Bloom, 27–44. New York: Chelsea House, 1989. Jeffrey Twitchell-Waas

BIGGERS, EARL DERR (1884–1933)

Earl Derr Biggers created Charlie Chan, a Chinese-American detective who appeared in eight of Biggers’s novels and in nearly 50 Hollywood films. (A total of six different actors played the role of Chan.) The first novel to feature Charlie Chan, The HOUSE WITHOUT A KEY, was published in 1925, and the final book in this series, Keeper of the Keys, appeared in 1932. Earl Derr Biggers was born on August 26, 1884, in Warren, Ohio, to Robert Biggers and Emma Derr Biggers. He attended Harvard University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1907. Biggers was supposedly fired as drama critic of the Boston Traveller because he unhesitatingly “roasted” bad plays at Boston theaters. Although he had almost no money, Biggers wrote his first novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate (1913), which was successful not only with the reading public but also with playgoers; George M. Cohan dramatized it and Seven Keys to Baldpate enjoyed a triumph on Broadway and became the basis of four different films, released in 1917, 1925, 1929, and 1945 (Berlin, 36). After publishing two additional novels, Love Insurance (1914) and The Agony Column (1916), as well as several fairly well-received plays, he published The House without a Key. When it appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, its protagonist, the first Chinese-Hawaiian-American detective, appealed to myriad readers. As scholar Vincent Starrett observed, Chan, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, became a detective who is larger in the public’s memory than the actual crimes he helps to solve. Biggers followed with five more Charlie Chan novels: The Chinese Parrot (1926), Behind That Curtain (1928), The Black Camel (1929), Charlie Chan Carries On (1930), and Keeper of the Keys (1932). The conception of Charlie Chan, Biggers said, occurred in 1919 when he was vacationing in Hawaii and read a newspaper article about two Honolulu detectives named Chang Apana and Lee Fook, who had just solved a case; Biggers was so intrigued that he invented Charlie Chan (Berlin, 36–37), promoting him

to Inspector Chan of the Honolulu Police by the end of the series. For his era, his intentions appeared benign, in spite of interviews where he said that “sinister and wicked Chinese are old stuff, but an amiable Chinese on the side of law and order had never been used” (quoted in Williams). Today, with the rise of AsianAmerican studies, Charlie Chan’s image has undergone a drastic change. As the creation of a white man who knew nothing of Chinese Americans, much less Chinese nationals, he is considered at best politically incorrect, at worst, an insulting stereotype. Earl Derr Biggers died at age 49 of a heart attack on April 5, 1933, at his home in Pasadena, California, but Charlie Chan continues to make the news. Respected Asian-American writers such as Elaine Kim and Jessica HAGEDORN have published a collection entitled Charlie Chan Is Dead (1993), decrying the “Oriental” stereotype. Howard M. Berlin, on the other side, has published The Charlie Chan Encyclopedia (2000), an A-to-Z fact book for the many fans of Charlie Chan around the world.

NOVELS The Agony Column. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1916; published as Second Floor Mystery, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1930. Behind That Curtain. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1928. The Black Camel. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1929. Celebrated Cases of Charlie Chan. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1933. Charlie Chan Carries On. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1930. The Chinese Parrot. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1926. Fifty Candles. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1926. The House without a Key. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1925. Inside the Lines. (With Robert Welles Ritchie). Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1915. Keeper of the Keys. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1932. Love Insurance. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1914. Seven Keys to Baldpate. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs Merrill, 1913.

SOURCES Berlin, Howard M. The Charlie Chan Encyclopedia. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2000.

OTHER Williams, Patrick. “Charlie Chan and the Case of the Cop Who Inspired Him.” The Charlie Chan Family Home.


Available online. URL: http://charliechanfamily.tripod. com/id78.html. Accessed August 22, 2005.

BIG SLEEP, THE RAYMOND CHANDLER (1939) Many readers wrongly consider Raymond CHANDLER’s novels to be mere detective stories. The subtle nuances that mimic harsh reality in the plotlines and characterizations, however, help elevate Chandler’s work beyond the genre. This gritty realism could, in part, be a result of Chandler’s late start in his writing career; he was 45 when he began to publish his work. He produced only one collection of short-stories and seven novels. However, Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep, established him as a true master of the American detective story. Initially the plot of The Big Sleep seems simple. An established and wealthy family, the Sternwoods, is being blackmailed and sends for the archetypal hardboiled private detective, Philip Marlowe. However, if in fact the blackmail situation was the driving force behind the Sternwoods’ hiring of Marlowe, the novel would have been substantially shorter and far less complex than the final product that the readers encounter. The complications come into play when the question of the blackmail becomes secondary to the job of locating a former bootlegger and common ruffian, Rusty Regan, the missing husband of the eldest Sternwood daughter. Although Regan never actually appears in the novel, he becomes the elusive object of desire for each member of the Sternwood clan, and in light of this, his character can be decoded in various ways. For General Sternwood, Regan represents a connection to the general’s lost youth, rebellion, and sense of adventure. Without Regan, the general is, as Chandler suggests, little more than a decrepit shell of a man, fully separated from a former glorious masculinity. In a similar fashion, Regan provided his wife, Vivian, with admission into the rather masculine and exciting world of crime. Indeed, as the case develops, Chandler often shows the masculine qualities of Vivian’s character in relation to her ability to participate in some illegal, or at least seedy, activity. Unlike the general, Vivian only needed Regan as a key into this criminal world and is fully able to function without him. However, just as a key can open new doors, a key can also formally lock them.

Vivian becomes concerned with her husband’s whereabouts because his disappearance makes her position in the underworld unstable. For Carmen, the youngest of the Sternwoods, Regan represents the final object she needs in her quest to achieve some perverse, and ultimately insane, mimicry of Vivian’s life. It is in this role as reluctant accessory to Carmen’s fantasy that Regan ultimately meets his death. With Regan’s absence, Carmen’s psychosis remains invisible to others. Although Chandler deals with archetypal figures such as the hard-boiled private dick, the aging patriarch, the flirtatious girl, and the sophisticated and sexually charged woman, the notable feature of these characters is that they always appear strikingly real. Unlike other writers in this genre at the time, Chandler’s characterizations exceed predictability and do not rely on conventional portrayals of good and evil. He destabilizes the traditionally held notion that the good guys always win in the end. Chandler is even able to disrupt the ghoulishness of the noir genre by creating characters that have bizarre psychological dysfunctions rather than focusing on ironic or dark crimes. In Chandler’s work the reader finds benevolent mobsters, moral petty thieves, virtually mute stool pigeons, fanged Kewpie-doll girls, and wildly progressive Victorian elders. Even with this seemingly oxymoronic collection of characters, the reader struggles to understand fully the various motivations that link each character to his or her actions. In The Big Sleep, the reader can understand the Sternwoods’ actions based on each family member’s connection to Regan; however, with characters not directly related to Regan, the question of motivation becomes much more complex and unique to the character’s independent personality. Most pointedly, Marlowe is not motivated to solve this case because he feels a need to correct a social injustice, but instead for the satisfaction of a job well done. Similar motivations of personal gain and integrity are mirrored in many of the other characters in the novel. Emotions have little or no space in a world ruled by the individual and personal achievements. This lack of emotional motivation also helps Chandler to escape the archetypal format of so many detective and mystery novels.


In 1946, The Big Sleep caught the eye of the Warner Brothers’ executives, and the story was purchased and sent into production. Directed by the well-respected Howard Hawks and staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Chandler’s novel was adapted to the screen by Nobel laureate William FAULKNER with assistance from Leigh Brackett and Jules Furtherman. Although Warner had the mastery of Faulkner, Hawks, Bogart, and Bacall on their side, the final version of the film suffered from strict censorship guidelines that limited the driving plots of the blackmail case and the psychological instability of the youngest Sternwood daughter, so as to only hint at the sexual perversions in play. This created a confusing line of motives for the two main deaths in the story. Warner executives also added a handful of scenes to showcase Bacall with the hope of attracting more male moviegoers. These additional scenes made the plotline even more convoluted than Chandler’s original.

SOURCES Chandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. Linder, Daniel. “Chandler’s The Big Sleep,” Explicator 59, no. 3 (Spring 2001): 137–140. Van Dover, J. K., ed. The Critical Responses to Raymond Chandler. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1995. Wertheim, Mary. “Philip Marlowe, Knight in Blue Serge,” Columbia Library Columns 37, no. 2 (1988): 13–22. Michael Miga

BILLY BUDD, SAILOR HERMAN MELVILLE (1924) Herman MELVILLE began writing the manuscript that became Billy Budd, Sailor in 1886 near the end of his life. Although distinct parallels exist between the story and the historic Somers mutiny of 1842, in which Melville’s cousin was involved as an officer aboard the warship, the author did not begin his final work of prose fiction with the idea of dramatizing that incident. Indeed, the Somers mutiny is but one of a multitude of diverse historical and literary sources from which he drew. Not quite complete at the time of his death in September 1891, the novelette remained unpublished until 1924, soon after its first editor, Raymond Weaver, acquired the heavily revised handwritten manuscript, quickly edited

it, and added it to the standard edition of Melville’s Complete Works, which he had prepared for Constable in London two years earlier. Although several later editions appeared over the next four decades, not until 1962 was a thoroughly researched scholarly version of Billy Budd finally published, edited by Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr., after their exhaustive study of the manuscript and related documents. Their edition includes a “reading text” for general readers and a “genetic text” for scholars that reproduces as nearly as possible Melville’s complex manuscript in printed form with all its overwritten, inserted, and patched-on segments incorporated via a system of editorial marks and symbols. Read in conjunction with the editors’ history and explanations of the text, the genetic text reveals that Melville composed Billy Budd in three stages beginning with a poem, “Billy in the Darbies,” that ironically closes the final version; he moved next to the section that describes John Claggart, and finally to the long concluding portion that emphasizes Captain Edward Fairfax “Starry” Vere. Most readers will be satisfied with the reading text alone, but serious students of Melville’s novelette will need the invaluable genetic text with its accompanying charts, tables, and other data for a fuller, richer understanding of what he had in mind when he drafted his cryptic “inside narrative.” The importance of that genetic text notwithstanding, however, the straightforward one has sufficed for most readers of Billy Budd, and it will continue to do so because their interest is first in the story and its components, and only afterward in how technicalities of its composition can affect interpretation. The basic story is simple enough. At 21, an experienced but innocent British sailor is impressed onto a 74-gun battleship, the Bellipotent, from a merchantman, the Rights of Man, on which he was the favorite of both captain and crew. Billy was a foundling believed to have been of noble birth. This “Handsome Sailor” is soon equally admired aboard the Bellipotent by all but John Claggart, masterat-arms, also perhaps highly born. The influential narrative voice, which goes beyond merely telling the story, proposes that Claggart’s antagonism to Billy is caused by the officers “depravity according to nature,”


as if he were a manifestation of the biblical “mystery of iniquity,” although hints are also given of other, more earthly, possible causes, such as envy and homoerotic attraction (75, 76, 108). In subtle, devious ways he implicates Billy in petty offenses without the sailors realizing who is harassing him or why; when an old Danish tar suggests it is the master-at-arms, Billy is incredulous because he knows he has done nothing to deserve such treatment. Ultimately, Claggart, unable to suppress his bitterness toward Billy any longer, speaks with Captain Vere, falsely charging the innocent sailor with attempting to instigate a mutiny, and the skeptical captain sees no alternative to having Billy respond to the charges. Both illiterate and inarticulate, Billy usually stutters but under pressure cannot speak at all; therefore, uncontrollably outraged, he strikes Claggart in the captain’s quarters with one heavy blow of his fist and kills him. Moments later, Vere musters a drumhead court from among his officers; insisting that martial law necessitates finding Billy guilty of fatally striking an officer, the captain persuades the court to overcome sympathy for the sailor, and Billy is hanged the next morning. The dreadful episode leads to fanciful accounts by the crew, the official record, and the press; ironically, the coda is “Billy in the Darbies,” and as may be expected, it no longer reflects Billy as presented in the preceding narrative. But Billy Budd is considerably more than the story of a sailor falsely charged and executed. As noted above, the narrator specifically identifies two of the three central figures with moral principles, Billy with good and Claggart with evil. The third primary character, however, Captain Vere, is treated far more ambiguously; at some points, the narrator appears sympathetic with his attitude and values, whereas elsewhere he implies that they are questionable at best. To a much smaller degree the same may be said of the narrator’s portraits of Billy and Claggart. Although Billy is the “Handsome Sailor,” innocent and able, he is also simple-minded and animal-like on the order of a songbird or a loyal dog. Claggart has an evil nature among other dishonorable qualities, but he is also an ambitious and capable officer; he has a heart, too, and “could even have loved Billy but for Fate and ban”

(88). As for Captain Vere, he is a meditative intellectual with ability and integrity but little imagination; he reads voluminously but only such expository works as history and philosophy; his books include no fiction, drama, or poetry. At some times he is like a father to Billy, reflecting the author’s own love for his two sons, who died young, but at others he is a strict authoritarian, the voice of martial law; for Vere “forms, measured forms, are everything” (128). His death comes when he is shot in battle, and his last words are “Billy Budd, Billy Budd” (129). If Billy is perceived as a sacrificial Christ-figure in his innocence and goodness, and Claggart as satanic, then Captain Vere may be regarded as godlike. With this in mind, some readers consider Billy’s final words at the yardarm, “God bless Captain Vere!” (123), indicative of Melville’s own ultimate testimony of acceptance after a lifetime of uncertainty and, according to Nathaniel Hawthorne, anticipation of annihilation after death. But this idea of Melville’s symbolically announcing his acceptance of Christian truth, with “lamb-like” Billy taking “the full rose of the dawn” at his hanging, is far from unanimous (44, 124). Instead, despite the seemingly allegorical symbolism of the novelette, doubters perceive deep irony underlying the story. They emphasize the ambiguity that Melville purposefully invested to a limited extent in Billy and Claggart, to a much greater degree in Vere, and particularly in what critics have called the narrator’s “smoky” language. Among other stylistic devices, this includes abundant double negatives (“never injudiciously so,” “it was not improbable that” [60, 113]) and diction suggesting a lack of commitment (“may . . . seem somewhat equivocal,” “a rumor . . . nobody could . . . substantiate . . . would . . . have seemed not altogether wanting in credibility” [64, 65]). Such language is typical of Hawthorne’s intentionally suggestive usage, and Melville’s allusion to the symbolism in “The Birthmark” early in Billy Budd (53) implies that he may have been rereading Hawthorne’s tales as he composed his novelette. The narrator’s subtle vagueness also complements the theme of prudence woven through the work. Implicitly comparing Captain Vere’s aims, values, and capabilities with those of the British naval hero Admiral Horatio Nelson, the narrator discusses prudence as


a questionable asset for a true military leader, in contrast to fervent patriotism, “love of glory,” and intrepidity in battle (58). Captain Graveling of the Rights of Man, from which Billy is impressed, prudently holds his tongue on losing the beloved “Handsome Sailor” from his crew. Similarly, experience has taught the Old Dansker, whom Billy consults about apparent harassment, the “bitter prudence that never interferes in aught and never gives advice” (86), and on recognizing Vere’s anomalous behavior while standing over the dead Claggart, the “prudent surgeon” is disturbed, but he nonetheless says nothing (100). Vere is prudent, too, when he orders Billy’s execution to squelch the possible threat of mutiny. Finally, Billy’s own prudence leads him to lie when asked in the trial if he has heard whispers of mutiny aboard; although an afterguardsman did attempt to bribe him to cooperate in such a venture, he denies it to protect himself, to avoid implicating others on the crew, or perhaps both. Apart from MOBY-DICK, none of Melville’s writings has received more critical—and more controversial— attention than Billy Budd because of its power and ambiguity. In recent years the novelette has been subjected to deconstructive, historical, psychoanalytic, sociological, political, and new-historicist readings, among others, that continue to throw more light on it, but additional light casts new shadows that further obstruct definitive interpretation. Consequently, “the deadly space between” (74) the knowable and the inscrutable in Melville’s “inside narrative” is never likely to be fathomed or bridged to the satisfaction of all readers. As the narrator acknowledges, “Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges” (128), and so it is with the enigmatic Billy Budd, Sailor.

SOURCES Adler, Joyce Sparer. “Billy Budd and Melville’s Philosophy of War and Peace.” In War in Melville’s Imagination, 160–185. New York: New York University Press, 1981. Marovitz, Sanford E. “Herman in the Darbies: Melville’s Dead-Wall Meditations on Readings from Europe in Billy Budd, Sailor,” Essays in Arts & Sciences 32 (Fall 2003): 61–73. ———. “Melville Among the Realists: W. D. Howells and the Writing of Billy Budd,” American Literary Realism 34 (Fall 2001): 29–46.

Melville, Herman. Billy Budd, Sailor (An Inside Narrative), edited by Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1962. Milder, Robert, ed. Critical Essays on Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989. Parker, Hershel. Reading Billy Budd. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1990. Sealts, Merton M., Jr. “Innocence and Infamy: Billy Budd, Sailor,” In A Companion to Melville Studies, edited by John Bryant, 407–430. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1986. Stafford, William T., ed. Melville’s Billy Budd and the Critics, 2nd ed. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1968. Sanford E. Marovitz

BIRD ARTIST, THE HOWARD NORMAN (1994) The Bird Artist, Howard NORMAN’s second novel, is the story of a man struggling to come to terms with his own identity. The novel’s narrator, Fabian Vas, strives to integrate two very disparate parts of his sense of self; he announces these conflicting pieces of himself, as well as several other crucial elements of the novel, in the very first paragraph: “My name is Fabian Vas. I live in Witless Bay, Newfoundland. You would not have heard of me. Obscurity is not necessarily failure, though: I am a bird artist, and I have more or less made a living at it. Yet I murdered the lighthouse keeper, Botho August, and that is an equal part of how I think of myself” (3). The novel is the story of how Fabian came to kill Witless Bay’s lighthouse keeper. It is also, and perhaps more significantly, the story of how Fabian and the rest of the small town’s residents begin to understand the ways the murder has transformed their lives and relationships. The novel takes place in 1911 in a town so isolated from the rest of the world that the mail comes to town by boat, and only during the summer months. Fabian Vas, employing skills developed through a mail-order art class with a magazine illustrator, leads a satisfying life earning a little money contributing drawings of birds to magazines such as Bird Lore. He had, for years, been spending several nights a week with Margaret Handle, the sexy, assertive, hard-drinking daughter of Witless Bay’s mail-boat captain.


Things begin to change dramatically when Fabian’s parents decide he should marry. They arrange a marriage on his behalf with a woman from a distant town, his fourth cousin Cora Holly. Though Fabian opposes the marriage, his parents will not relent. Fabian’s father, Orkney, has to leave Witless Bay to earn the money necessary for the wedding. Soon after Orkney’s departure, Fabian’s emotionally fragile mother, Alaric, promptly begins an affair with Botho August, the lighthouse keeper. Though Botho is a private man who’d “rather be up in his crow’s nest than down among common men” (28), he is also a romantic figure in Witless Bay. We soon learn he has also been sleeping with Margaret Handle. Fabian tries to negotiate this complex situation, but his hatred for Botho eventually drives him to murder. The richness of The Bird Artist is a result not of Fabian’s retelling of his story, but instead of the atmosphere Norman creates through an exceptional awareness of compelling and suggestive detail. Norman portrays Witless Bay and its frozen northern terrain and places with peculiar names like Shoe Cove and Dog Tooth Harbor as dreary, cold, ever-present manifestations of the palpable tensions being played out among Fabian, Botho August, Margaret, Alaric, and the other town residents. Norman also populates Witless Bay with a great many quirky, troubled, dark, occasionally funny characters. The web of relationships among the townspeople, and the fact that Witless Bay is the kind of small village where everyone knows everything about everyone else, adds both to the novel’s tension and the undercurrent of inevitability that runs through every expression and gesture of the story’s key characters. The attempts of Fabian Vas and Witless Bay to reconcile his double identities of artist and killer reveal much about the human struggles for self-awareness, compassion, and empathy. Because Norman borrows something in the novel’s tone and color from magical realism, these struggles unfold in unexpected, even startling ways that seem to be revealed as much by the sea, the cold, and the birds Fabian Vas observes and paints as they are by human word and action.

SOURCES Jones, Louis B. Review of The Bird Artist, by Howard Norman, New York Times Book Review, 10 July 1994, p. 7.

Norman, Howard. The Bird Artist. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1994. Nancy Kuhl

BLACK BOY RICHARD WRIGHT (1945) Black Boy, the first book-length installment of Richard WRIGHT’s novelistic autobiography, was a Book-of-theMonth Club selection, the second of Wright’s works to be so recognized, the other being his enormously popular and important first novel NATIVE SON (1940). In Black Boy, Wright delineates his coming-of-age in the segregated South of the early 20th century. The narrative opens when Wright is about four years old and ends when he leaves the South for Chicago when he is 19. Rather than recount his growth and development in strict chronological terms, Wright fashions his narrative around certain guiding themes that characterized his life in the South, principal among those being fear, hunger, and deprivation. Moreover, Wright transcends his own individual experience and captures the experiences of countless black males who grow up in a South that does not recognize them as men and does not nurture them as human beings. In a 1945 interview with John McCaffery, Wright noted, “I wanted to lend, give my tongue, to voiceless Negro boys” (Kinnamon and Fabre, 65). In so doing, Wright achieves something of a primer for growing up black in the Deep South, a lesson he had first offered in “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow,” a previously published essay that appears as the opening chapter of Black Boy. One primary theme that Wright deals with extensively in Black Boy is the intense racism that every African American was subjected to in the South. This racism not only characterized Wright’s own early life, but also was an aspect of southern life that he examined in a number of his short stories and novellas. One especially harrowing experience was the murder of Wright’s Uncle Hoskins by white Arkansans who wanted to control his lucrative saloon business. The family had to flee Arkansas to escape a similar fate. The fear engendered by these and other acts of violence is a second primary aspect of life for blacks in the South during the first third of the 20th century and Wright shows how this fear becomes a stunting if not altogether paralyzing fac-


tor in the lives of black boys in particular. The presence of this fear made Wright determined “to render a judgment on [his] environment” (64). Perhaps the most far-reaching characteristic of Black Boy is its focus on hunger, in both its physical and spiritual dimensions. Having been abandoned by their husband and father, Wright’s mother, often ill from a stroke, and her sons were frequently hungry. Just as Frederick Douglass noted in his Narrative that the cruelest behavior of whites toward their slaves was to deprive them of food, Wright echoes a similar sentiment in his autobiography where he claims that one of the most painful and debilitating aspects of growing up black in the South was the lack of sustenance. Despite their best efforts, including young Wright’s taking on many odd jobs to help out with expenses, the family rarely had enough to eat. Spiritual hunger is another aspect of hunger that Wright deals with extensively in Black Boy. This type of hunger manifests itself in the absence of the father, in Wright’s inability to pursue an education in a sustained manner, and in the treachery he often experienced at the hands of fellow African Americans, including members of his own family, for either not knowing his place or refusing to accept the subservient roles expected of him as a black boy in the segregated South. The quest for an education was particularly frustrating for young Wright, and the fact that reading any book except the Bible was considered sinful by his fundamentalist Seventh-Day Adventist grandmother did much to embitter Wright against organized religion. Hunger was such an impediment to Wright’s developing a wholesome perspective about the South that he used “American Hunger” as the working title for the autobiography. At the suggestion of his editor, the narrative was divided into two parts, with Black Boy chronicling the years in the South and American Hunger, published posthumously, chronicling his early years in the North. The text has since been restored and both installments appear under the single title of Black Boy. As black autobiography goes, Richard Wright’s Black Boy stands as a remarkable document of the problems attendant on growing up black in the American South. Its literary merit is fur-

ther enhanced by the author’s supremely competent handling of character development, setting, imagery, and theme.

SOURCES Bloom, Harold, ed. Richard Wright: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. Brigano, Russell Carl. Richard Wright: An Introduction to the Man and His Works. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University Press of Pittsburgh, 1970. Gayle, Addison, Jr. Richard Wright: Ordeal of a Native Son. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor, 1980. Kinnamon, Keneth, and Michel Fabre, eds. Conversations with Richard Wright. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993. Wright, Richard. Black Boy. [1945]. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993. Warren J. Carson

BLACK OXEN GERTRUDE ATHERTON (1923) Black Oxen simultaneously earned critical acclaim and prompted scorn and shock. Called drama, romance, and science fiction in its 1924 film release from Frank Lloyd Productions, the book went into 14 printings in a single year. The film’s popular stars, Corinne Griffin, Thomas S. Guise, and Clara Bow, as well as the controversy (including a condemnation from America’s pulpits) that the book generated, and Boni Liveright Publishers’ incredibly astute use of publicity, probably aided the book’s high sales, but even most critics eventually agreed that parts of the book represented some of ATHERTON’s best work. As critic Charlotte McClure and reviewers have attested, part of Atherton’s literary strength—and weakness—rested in her refusal to fit any particular classification; she avoided pure realism, pure naturalism, and pure sentiment or romanticism, and assiduously shunned labeling herself or her work as regionalist. She observed and reported but never conclusively analyzed, and as a result, her fiction often contained irreconcilable ambiguities that the critics pounced upon as evidence of a lack of depth in her work. Somewhat like an impressionistic painter, she used the canvas of her characters to paint the portrait of the intellectual, social, and political America of her times.


Like many other American authors of her time, she could not escape that call to examine the past’s relationship to the present, the European influence in the Western world, and the rising tide of bourgeois influence amid the supposedly classless American society. And in her examinations, women constituted a class in themselves, a class she recognized as wrongly considered inferior by society. Atherton consciously strove not to follow tradition, and often that unwillingness to do so earned her fiction the labels “immoral,” “wild,” “uncouth,” “too sensational,” “unpredictable,” and “unladylike.” The critics most especially condemned her attitude about sexual freedom and her presentation of women who were stubborn nonconformists straying too far from the female ideal. Atherton maintained that her characters represented real women and her books showed the need for improving society and the way to do it. Black Oxen stands as no exception to Atherton’s approach. Its leading character, Madame Marie Zattiany, arrives in Manhattan and intrigues its bourgeois social set because of her beauty and energy and her surprising similarities to a former member of their social set, Mary Ogden. In actuality, she is Mary Ogden, but because she has undergone the Steinach treatment, in which she has had her ovaries irradiated, her youthful appearance, energy, and sexuality belie her age of 58. Lee Clavering, a 30-year-old playwright, falls in love with her and proposes marriage, much to the dismay of the 18-year-old Janet Ogelthorpe, a flapper who cannot comprehend Clavering’s dismissal of her in favor of his attraction to an old woman. Ultimately, Marie Zattiany refuses to marry Clavering— who then settles for Janet Ogelthorpe—and instead agrees to marry Prince Hohenhaur so that she can return to Europe in a position of power and continue her relief work. That power emerges as a crucial element of the theme of the text, for even as Marie Zattiany focuses on her beautiful, youthful, and sensual appearance, she wants that youth and sexuality primarily for the power and energy they can bring to her. “The bare idea of that old game of prowling sex fills [her] with ennui and disgust” (172); the power she seeks moves beyond mere physical attraction or physical acts of love. As Leider

contends, in Black Oxen what conquers is not love but solitary strength; a strong woman can triumph even over time. The Steinach treatment’s glory is that in the Darwinian struggle to survive and dominate, it provides a competitive edge (303). Marie Zattiany clearly wins the competition with strength and purpose. That competition, however, goes on not just among the women of the text. The novel presents as one of its essential themes the battle between past and present, between the morals of a previous era and those of the current one, and between the original concept of the new woman and the existing execution of that vision. These conflicts reveal themselves particularly in the juxtaposition of the female characters, with Janet Ogelthorpe representing the quintessential flapper whose behavior suggests “the limited use to which the flapper [is] putting her new freedom” (Forrey, 196); with Jane Ogelthorpe, Janet’s mother, symbolizing the Victorian woman unable to change or control her own life and who has “done [her] duty by the race . . . [has] brought up [her] sons to be honorable and selfrespecting men . . . and [her] daughters in the best traditions of American womanhood” (193); and with Marie Zattiany standing for the woman of power, grace, and intelligence, who embraces outwardly the Victorian feminine ideal, but who inwardly commands the true ideal of the new woman of autonomy and strength. While Leider, McClure, Forrey, Bookman’s critic Frederick Taber Cooper, a host of readers, and even Atherton’s friends Carl Van Vechten and James D. Phelan have found Black Oxen an autobiographical work based upon Atherton’s own experimentation with rejuvenation through hormone and X-ray treatments, the book goes well beyond mere autobiography and commentary on vanity and appearances to reveal an analysis of a post–World War I America caught up in the exterior elements of life and being to the exclusion of the interior and the intellect, in what Atherton condemns as America’s “lack of brains” (Atherton, Adventures of a Novelist, 562) in a “world falling to ruins” (345). Her heroine gives up the romantic love of Clavering so that she might have the power to do more than raise and care for a man and a child, so that she might have the power to use her “splendid mental


gifts, [her] political genius . . . [to become] the most useful woman in Europe” (322–323). That usefulness makes of woman more than a Victorian conformist or a superficial flapper; it makes of her a shaper of the world.

SOURCES Atherton, Gertrude. Adventures of a Novelist. New York: Arno Press, 1980. ———. Black Oxen. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1923. Baym, Nina. Woman’s Fiction: A Guide to Novels by and about Women in America, 1820–1870. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978. Bruce, John. Gaudy Century: The Story of San Francisco’s Hundred Years of Robust Journalism. New York: Random House, 1948. Cowie, Alexander. The Rise of the American Novel. New York: American Book, 1948. Crow, Charles L. Itinerary Criticism: Essays on California Writers. Bowling Green, Ohio: Press of Bowling Green, 1978. Cummins, Ella Sterling. “California Writers and Literature.” In The Story of the Files. n.p.: California World’s Fair Commission, Columbia Exposition, 1893. Davidson, Cathy N. Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Forrey, Carolyn. “Gertrude Atherton and the New Woman.” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1971. Leider, Emily Wortis. California’s Daughter: Gertrude Atherton and Her Times. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1991. McClure, Charlotte S. “A Bibliography of the Works by and about Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton,” American Literary Realism, 1870–1910 9 (1976): 119–126. ———. Gertrude Atherton. No. 23 of Boise State University Western Writers Series, edited by Wayne Chatterton, James H. Maguire, and Dale K. Boyer. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton, 1976. ———. Gertrude Atherton, edited by David J. Nordlon. TUSAS 324 of Twayne’s United States Authors Series Boston: Twayne, 1979. ———. “Gertrude Atherton and Her San Francisco: A Wayward Writer and a Wayword Paradise,” IN (1995): 73–95. Patricia J. Sehulster


The Exorcist, a horror novel published in 1971, made a tremendous impact on the popular imagination, remaining on the New York Times best-seller list for

more than a year. This novel by William Peter Blatty has been compared with Thomas Tryon’s The Other and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby in the way they use the horror fiction genre. To cite critic Gary Hoppenstand’s words, their horror fiction uses “grotesque violations” of respected “American institutions and traditions” (Hoppenstand, 36). Blatty was awarded a Silver Medal, California Literature Medal Award for the novel, and a Golden Globe award for the best screenplay for the film, The Exorcist. William Peter Blatty was born on January 7, 1928, in New York City, to Lebanese immigrants Peter Blatty, a carpenter, and Mary Mouakod Blatty. His father deserted the family when William was six, leaving Mary Blatty to raise five children. Blatty won a scholarship to Georgetown University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1950, then earned a master’s degree in English from George Washington University in 1954. From 1951–1954, Blatty worked in the Psychological Warfare Division of the U.S. Air Force, attaining the rank of first lieutenant. After writing four comic novels that did not sell well, and screenplays for seven Hollywood films, Blatty retired to a Lake Tahoe, Nevada, cabin and wrote the draft of The Exorcist, the novel that would change the course of his career. Set in Georgetown (Washington, D.C.), it tells the story of Chris MacNeil, a well-known actress who arrives with her 12-year-old daughter Regan to begin a new film. Regan’s behavior begins to change and bizarre occurrences take place with increasing frequency: Her mother’s director is killed with only Regan present in the room. When Chris calls in Father Damien Karras, also a psychiatrist, the priest’s doubts prevent him from realizing that the child is possessed until she has killed again. In the end, Father Karras, in a humanitarian gesture, absorbs the devil into his own body and hurls himself to his death from Regan’s window. The novel’s popularity prompted most critics to deny that the book was literature but allowed them to praise its plotting and use of suspense. Some critics say that the novel has a clear moral grounding, and that the ending provides the idea of salvation in the contemporary world. Others think it is an expression of adults’ fear of rebellious, sexually active 1970s youth. Others view it in an antifeminist light, blaming Regan’s


troubles on her mother, Chris, for being divorced and for pursuing her career. Blatty wrote Legion, a sequel to The Exorcist, in 1983; he also wrote the film scripts for both. The Exorcist has gone into two more film versions, The Exorcist II and The Exorcist III. Blatty, who was married to Mary Margaret Rigard on February 18, 1950, and, after an annulment, to Elizabeth Gilman that same year, lives with Linda Tuero, a tennis player, whom he married on July 20, 1975. They live in Georgetown where Blatty, who has written seven novels to date, continues to write. Critical essays, many by scholars fascinated with The Exorcist as a cultural phenomenon, continue to appear.

NOVELS Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable. New York: Donald I. Fine Books, 1996. The Exorcist. New York: Harper, 1971. I, Billy Shakespeare!. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1965. John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1963. Legion. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983. The Ninth Configuration. New York: Harper, 1978. Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1967. Which Way to Mecca, Jack?. New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1960.

SOURCES Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin. “The Turn of the Screw and The Exorcist: Demoniacal Possession and Childhood Purity,” American Imago: A Psychoanalytic Journal for Culture, Science and the Arts 33 (1976): 296–303. Brock-Servais, Rhonda. “William Peter Blatty.” In Asian American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson, 18–23. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2000. Burton, John W., David Hicks, Susan P. Montague, and W. Arens. “Chaos Triumphant: Archetypes and Symbols in The Exorcist(s).” In The American Dimension: Cultural Myths and Social Realities, edited by W. Arens & Susan P. Montague, 117–123. Port Washington, N.Y.: Alfred University Press, 1976. Forshey, Gerald E. Rosemary’s Baby, “The Exorcist,” “The Omen”: The Negative Quest for Faith. Chicago: Malcolm X. College, 1979. Hoppenstand, Gary. “Exorcising the Devil Babies: Images of Children and Adolescents in the Best-Selling Horror

Novel.” In Images of the Child, edited by Harry Eiss, 35–58. Bowling Green, Ohio: Popular Press, 1994. Koontz, Dean R. “A Genre in Crisis,” Proteus: A Journal of Ideas 6, no. 1 (Spring 1989): 1–5. Merry, Bruce. “The Exorcist Dies So That We Can All Enjoy the Sunset Again,” University of Windsor Review 11, no. 1 (1975): 5–24. Schober, Adrian. “The Lost and Possessed Child in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and Victor Kelleher’s Del-Del,” Explorations into Children’s Literature 9, no. 2: 40–48. Winter, Douglas E. “Casting Out Democracy: The Horror Fiction of William Peter Blatty.” In A Dark Night’s Dreaming: Contemporary American Horror Fiction, 84–96. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.

OTHER Slovick, Matt. “William Peter Blatty: Author, Screenwriter, Director.” Washington Post.com. Available online. URL: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/ features/dcmovies/blattytalk.htm. Accessed December 5, 2005. Washingtonpost.com. William Peter Blatty Filmography. Available online. URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ wp-srv/style/longterm/filmgrph/william_peter_blatty.htm. Accessed July 25, 2005.

BLESS ME, ÚLTIMA RUDOLFO ANAYA (1972) Second recipient of the Quinto Sol Prize in 1971, this novel opened a new era for Chicano letters. Quinto Sol Publications established an annual prize for Chicano writers to promote their works in mainstream literature and, a year after Tomás RIVERA’s Y NO SE LO TRAGÓ LA TIERRA/AND THE EARTH DID NOT PART (1971) was awarded the prize, ANAYA’s Bless Me, Última was acclaimed best novel. Heart of Aztlán and Tortuga complete Anaya’s trilogy on growing up Chicano in New Mexico during a time of political and social changes, after World War II. Antonio Márez y Luna, the protagonist of the novel, experiences the arrival of Última, a curandera (healer), to his house as the opening of a period of changes and new possibilities in his life. He, as an adolescent, has to fulfill new responsibilities and make decisions that affect his future life as an adult. His mother expects that he will become a man of learning, maybe a priest, while his father, for whom Antonio is his last hope,


dreams of going west, to California, to improve his life as a road builder. León, Eugene, and Andrew (Antonio’s brothers) have already abandoned the family home, enlisting to fight in the war first, then moving to other major cities in New Mexico, such as Santa Fe or Vegas when the war ends. Trapped between his parents’ desires and hopes, Antonio finds in Última the wisdom and balance to guide him through this troubling time in life and the curandera responds to this trust by teaching him about nature and its power. Together they perform cures and confront evil, which appears even in ghostly and threatening forms. Respected and feared at the same time, Última’s power is acknowledged by all the villagers and, although her goodness might be questioned, her wisdom is never doubted. Her name describes her situation as the last representative of her kind: a powerful woman capable of dominating nature, using its magic to cure. The magic of nature can also bring destruction for those who defy the goodness of the curandera, like the Trementina sisters. As a symbol of that special relationship she has with nature, an owl accompanies her and protects her from attacks. She tells Antonio that it has been given to her by a wise man and it is her spirit. At the end of the novel, the owl dies at the hands of Tenorio (embodiment of evil in the novel), who shoots him in revenge for the death of his daughters, the Trementina sisters. On the death of her spirit, Última’s life escapes her body and she dies peacefully, blessing Antonio and leaving the scent of her presence around: “I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful, Antonio. Always have the strength to live. Love life and if despair enters your heart, look for me in the evenings when the wind is gentle and the owls sing in the hills, I shall be with you” (247). Besides Última’s instruction, Antonio receives classes in English at school and this language overtakes Spanish outside the household. The code-switching condition (the combination of two languages to form a new and different linguistic code) that Chicanos experience also plays a relevant role in Anaya’s novel through Antonio’s education. He envisions his own future as a man of letters when he learns to read and write; in fact, he has several premonitory dreams about his destiny during his learning process. The reader

already knows the adult Antonio from his position as narrator of the story, and so the novel, apart from falling in the genre of the autobiography, can be considered a Künstlerroman, or novel about the formative process of an artist. Religion represents a conflicted point in Antonio’s educative process. On the one hand, Antonio feels the mercy and forgiveness of the Virgin of Guadalupe to whom his mother says the rosary and prays for the safe return of her sons; he even dreams of Última’s spirit (her owl) lifting up Our Lady to heaven. On the other hand, he has a different view of the Christian God who allows evil and injustice in the world, especially the deaths of Lupito and Narciso, which he has witnessed in his short life. Thus, after a long period of preparation to take his first communion, he expects to find clarity upon receiving the holy host. However, a feeling of frustration invades him when he realizes that no mystery of the Catholic faith will be revealed for him with the sacrament. A true epiphany, nevertheless, takes place when his friend Cico tells him the story of the golden carp and Antonio discovers its beauty in the river. The impact of the vision makes the eyes of his understanding open wide and he realizes that what he previously had conceived as opposite realities have now become complementary parts of the same truth. For the first time, he knows that he does not have to decide between being a Márez or a Luna, between Spanish or English, good or evil, life or death, but that he has to combine and accept both sides of each pair because they are indivisible and come along together like the two sides of the same coin. Prophecies have been fulfilled in the figure of Antonio, a writer and a recipient of Última’s teachings: her knowledge has been transmitted widely in this novel.

SOURCES Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless Me, Última. Berkeley, Calif.: Quinto Sol Publications, 1972. Augenbraum, Harold, and Margarite Fernández Olmos. U.S. Latino Literature: A Critical Guide for Students and Teachers. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000. Maciel, David R., Isidro D. Ortiz, and Maria HerreraSobeck, (eds.) Chicano Renaissance: Contemporary Cultural Trends. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2000.


Novoa, Bruce. Retrospace: Collected Essays on Chicano Literature. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press, 1990. Imelda Martín-Junquera

BLITHEDALE ROMANCE, THE NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (1852) The Blithedale Romance was the third of Nathaniel HAWTHORNE’s four major American romances, after The SCARLET LETTER (1850) and The HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES (1851). Unique among Hawthorne’s novels, it is the only one to feature a firstperson narrator, the urbane and sybaritic Miles Coverdale, minor poet and inveterate voyeur. It is also the most autobiographical of Hawthorne’s novels, based in part on his experiences at Brook Farm, an experimental utopian commune. Contemporary reaction to the novel was mixed: George Eliot called it “unmistakably the finest production of genius in either hemisphere” in many years, while Emerson called it “that disagreeable story” (Idol, 203–204; Miller, 367). Resistance to the novel may have stemmed from its technical innovativeness. Although Hawthorne designated his novel as a “romance,” its unreliable narrator, polytonality, and unresolved plot appear to anticipate certain features of literary modernism, and its influence can be detected in such later novels as Henry JAMES’s The Bostonians (1886) and F. Scott FITZGERALD’s The GREAT GATSBY (1925). The plot concerns the efforts of a group of New England intellectuals to establish a farming community, founded upon socialist principles, that seeks to provide a utopian space outside of the culture of market capitalism and its emphasis on self-interest and competition. In the words of Miles Coverdale, “We sought our profit by mutual aid, instead of wresting it by the strong hand from an enemy . . . or winning it by selfish competition with a neighbor” (19). However, as the novel progresses, the Blithedalers find their community developing into a replica of the American society they sought to leave behind. The members seek out the society of others within their own class, women are restricted to domestic labor, and Blithedale is forced to compete with neighboring farms in order to survive. Most crucially, Blithedale is haunted by history. One of the first decisions made by the Blithedalers as a community is to reject the Native American name of the

land on which they are living, on the grounds that the word is “harsh, ill-connected, and interminable” (37). But such Emersonian renunciations of the past have little lasting force. The Blithedalers remain painfully aware that their new Eden is built on soil stolen from American Natives by European settlers with utopian dreams of their own—on land “stained by genocide and already replete with the dust of earlier failures” (Tanner, xxviii). As the novel progresses, sexual jealousy and selfinterest threaten to tear apart a community already crumbling under the weight of its ideological contradictions. A love triangle forms between three Blithedalers: Hollingsworth, a philanthropist who secretly plans to transform the commune into a colony for the reform of criminals; the anemic yet captivating Priscilla; and the brilliant Zenobia, a celebrated writer and scintillating conversationalist modeled in part on the writer Margaret Fuller. Zenobia is described as a “high-spirited Woman, bruising herself against the narrow limitations of her sex” (2). It is one of the many ironies of The Blithedale Romance that this independent woman should fall in love with the misogynistic and egomaniacal Hollingsworth, who is seeking the resources of a rich wife to underwrite his philanthropic schemes. Through all this, Miles Coverdale adopts a position of panoptic specular detachment. Camping out in a tree-top hermitage, he converts the passions of his fellow Blithedalers into his own private theater. Yet despite his efforts to remain a detached observer, Coverdale finds himself irresistibly drawn to three of his fellow communalists, and in particular to Hollingsworth. Like Zenobia and Priscilla, Coverdale is attracted by Hollingsworth’s “all-devouring egotism” (71), which feeds, vampire-like, on the energy and admiration of others. Coverdale eventually flees Blithedale out of fear of being “penetrated” by the philanthropist’s “magnetism” (134). Animal magnetism, or mesmerism, is the novel’s central metaphor for human relationships, as well as a plot device. (Another character, the sinister Westervelt, is a professional mesmerist.) Hawthorne was horrified by mesmerism, perceiving it as a monstrous violation of an individual’s will by another. Yet human interaction generally, and erotic relationships specifically, tend to


be marked by such asymmetry in The Blithedale Romance, and the novel suggests it is impossible for the modern subject to escape the dynamics of dominance and submission, not even in love or friendship, not even in utopia. At the end of the novel, the passions at Blithedale explode in a catastrophe that dismantles the Blithedale experiment: the drowning of Zenobia. Zenobia’s death, as narrated by Coverdale, is shrouded in such obscurity that some critics (like Louise DeSalvo) have argued that murder, and not suicide, is suggested—a thesis that would make Blithedale a detective story without a solution. Coverdale’s strange “confession” in the final chapter has added to the speculation: The rhetoric of the confession is much wilder than the disclosure warrants, leaving the impression that Coverdale withholds more than he reveals. Regardless, the excessive brutality of Zenobia’s demise has suggested to some that the novel punishes her for her feminism. Like Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, Zenobia is dark-haired, passionate, and rebellious—and suffers for it. But the fair-haired, virginal, and submissive Priscilla fares hardly better: When last seen, she is trapped in a joyless marriage to a remorseful Hollingsworth. And Miles Coverdale ends his days alone in his bachelor rooms, a failed poet, reflecting half-satirically, half-regretfully on the failure of the Blithedale project. It is a somber conclusion: As Edwin Miller writes, The Blithedale Romance “sounds in its desperateness and ennui more ominous chords of disintegration and futility” than any of Hawthorne’s other novels (367). In a novel that dramatizes the limits of individual agency and questions the possibility of creating a viable space outside of the dominant culture, it is perhaps fitting that there proves to be for the fiercely independent Zenobia no room of her own except the grave.

SOURCES DeSalvo, Louise. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1987. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Blithedale Romance. Edited by Tony Tanner. New York: Oxford, 1998. Idol, John L., Jr., and Buford Jones. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Contemporary Reviews. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Miller, Edwin Haviland. Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Iowa City: Iowa University Press, 1991. Tanner, Tony. “Introduction.” In Hawthorne: A Life, edited by Brenda Wineapple, vii–xli. New York: Knopf, 2003. Brian Sweeney

BLOCK, LAWRENCE (PAUL KAVANAGH, CHIP HARRISON) (1938– ) Lawrence Block, named the “Grand Master of the murder mystery” by the Mystery Writers of America in 1994, has been writing for almost 50 years. His three wellknown and popular fictional detectives—Evan Tanner, Bernie Rhodenbarr, and Matthew Scudder—are hardboiled enough to be compared to Dashiell HAMMETT’s Sam Spade and Raymond CHANDLER’s Philip Marlowe, and Block himself is often compared to detective fiction writers Ross MacDONALD and John D. MacDONALD. Lawrence Block was born on June 24, 1938, in Buffalo, New York, to Arthur Jerome Block and Lenore Harriet Nathan Block. He married Loretta Ann Kallett in 1960; the marriage ended in 1973, and he married Lynne Wood in 1983. After two years at Antioch College, Block dropped out to work for the literary agent Scott Meredith because, as he remarked in an interview with Ernie Bulow, “I wanted to be doing things” (Block and Bulow, 24); by the time of his indifferent return to the campus for a third year, he was already a professional writer and dropped out again, committed to making writing his living. The results speak for themselves. Although Block began with pulp novel and soft pornography writing, he segued into detective fiction with Death Pulls a Doublecross in 1961, and created the first Evan Tanner novel, The Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep, in 1966. Evan Tanner is a Korean War veteran who finds sleep impossible because shrapnel has destroyed the sleep center in his brain; in his job as cold war spy for a mysterious unnamed agency, he travels to various countries and learns new languages late at night while the rest of the world sleeps. Block was, meanwhile, writing other crime novels under the pseudonyms Chip Harrison and Paul Kavanagh. Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr series won raves from readers and critics alike: Rhodenbarr is a bookstore owner who hobnobs with the rich and famous by day,


and who becomes a thief at night, encountering mysteries that he solves. The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling won the Nero Wolfe Award of Best Mystery of 1979. Much darker and steeped in the seamy life of New York’s mean streets is the Matthew Scudder series about a private eye who (illegally, because his license has been revoked) battles the underworld and his own alcoholism. Numerous Scudder novels have swept the Shamus Best Mystery Novel and the Edgar Allan Poe Best Novel awards: Eight Million Ways to Die, in 1983; A Dance at the Slaughterhouse, in 1992; The Devil Knows You’re Dead, in 1994; and both When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (1986) and A Ticket to the Boneyard (1990) won the Japanese Maltese Falcon Award. “Everything real is tragic,” he believes, commenting on John O’HARA, one of his favorite writers—after all, “no one gets out of this alive, you know” (Block and Bulow, 59). Lawrence Block continues to publish prolifically and to earn praise for his novels, particularly for his realistic characterization and for his detailed description of the underlife of the city; indeed, he has published four books on the craft of writing. Several of Block’s books were adapted for film, including Deadly Honeymoon, Eight Million Ways to Die, and The Burglar in the Closet, and he has sold the screen rights to Hit Man and A Walk among the Tombstones. Lawrence Block’s papers are at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Block’s works—novels, short-story collections, nonfiction—have been widely translated, winning him awards in both Japan and France as well as the United States. In 2002, Block received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America and the French Grand Maitre du Roman Noir.

SELECTED NOVELS Hit List. New York: Morrow, 2000. Introducing Chip Harrison. (Chip Harrison, pseud.) Woodstock, Vt.: Countryman Press, 1984. Mona. New York: Fawcett, 1961; as Sweet Slow Death, New York: Berkley, 1986. Small Town. New York: Morrow, 2003. The Specialists. New York: Fawcett, 1969. Such Men Are Dangerous: A Novel of Violence. (Paul Kavanagh, pseud.) New York: Macmillan, 1969.

EVAN TANNER SERIES The Cancelled Czech. New York: Fawcett, 1967.

Tanner on Ice. New York: Dutton, 1998. The Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep. New York: Fawcett, 1966.

MATTHEW SCUDDER SERIES A Dance at the Slaughterhouse. New York: Morrow, 1991. The Devil Knows You’re Dead. New York: Morrow, 1993. Eight Million Ways to Die. New York: Arbor House, 1982. Even the Wicked. New York: Morrow, 1997. Everybody Dies. New York: Morrow, 1999. Hope to Die. New York: Morrow, 2001. In the Midst of Death. New York: Dell, 1976. A Long Line of Dead Men. New York: Morrow, 1994. Out on the Cutting Edge. New York: Morrow, 1989. Sins of the Fathers. New York: Dell, 1976. A Stab in the Dark. New York: Arbor House, 1981. A Ticket to the Boneyard. New York: Morrow, 1990. Time to Murder and Create. New York: Dell, 1977. A Walk among the Tombstones. New York: Morrow, 1992. When the Sacred Ginmill Closes. New York: Arbor House, 1986.

BERNIE RHODENBARR SERIES Burglars Can’t Be Choosers. New York: Random House, 1977. The Burglar in the Closet. New York: Random House, 1978. The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling. New York: Random House, 1979. The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams. New York: Dutton, 1994.

SOURCES Block, Lawrence, and Ernie Bulow. After Hours: Conversations with Lawrence Block. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995. Burns, Landon C. “Matthew Scudder’s Moral Ambiguity,” Clues: A Journal of Detection 17 (Fall/Winter 1996): 19–32. Casella, Donna. “The Matt Scudder Series: The Saga of an Alcoholic Hardboiled Detective,” Clues: A Journal of Detection 14 (Fall/Winter 1993): 31–50. Charyn, Jerome. The New Mystery. New York: Dutton, 1993. King, Stephen. “No Cats: An Appreciation of Lawrence Block and Matt Scudder.” In The Sins of the Fathers, by Lawrence Block. Arlington Heights, Ill.: Dark Harvest, 1992. Meyer, Adam. “Still Out on the Cutting Edge: An Interview with the Mystery Man: Lawrence Block,” Pirate Writings: Tales of Fantasy, Mystery and Science Fiction 2, no. 7 (Summer 1995): 34–37.

OTHER Klausner, Harriet. Review of The Burglar in the Rye. November 7, 2000. Booksnbites. Available online. URL: http://www.


booksnbites.com/reviews/block_burglarintherye.html. Accessed June 2, 2005. Klausner, Harriet. Review of Hit List. Booksnbites. Available online. URL: http://harrietklausner.wwwi.com/review/hit_ list. Accessed March 12, 2006. CyberSpace Spinner. Archive of Mystery and Suspense Fiction. “Lawrence Block.” Available online. URL: http://www. hycyber.com/MYST/block_lawrence.html. Accessed June 2, 2005.

BLOOD MERIDIAN, OR THE EVENING DARKNESS IN THE WEST CORMAC MCCARTHY (1992) Blood Meridian is nightmarish, yet so hypnotically written, displaying such a wild and profound command of the language that the critic Harold Bloom, among others, has declared it one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and perhaps the greatest by a living American writer. Critics cite its magnificent language, its uncompromising representation of a crucial period of American history, and its unapologetic, bleak vision of the inevitability of suffering and violence. The novel begins with the kid heading out from his Tennessee home (this also reflects McCARTHY’s own shift in the setting of his writing from the south of Tennessee to the American Southwest) to find his way in the world. The kid throws his lot in with a band of mercenaries off to take part of Mexico and claim it for the United States regardless of the outcome of the recent war. Instead they are destroyed in a scene of apocalyptic, almost biblical, violence by a war party of Comanche. Somehow the kid is left injured, but alive, only to be arrested and thrown in a Chihuahua jail. He is released so that he can fight for the Mexican government with a group of American rogues, the Glanton Gang, who have been commissioned as scalp hunters. Here, for the first time, we are introduced to one of the pivotal characters of the book, Judge Holden. Holden is a giant hairless beast of a man who is at the same time both elementally evil and disturbingly childlike. The judge is a master of all things: science, the arts and language, and war and philosophy. Ironically at the same time that he serves as the most civilized of the book’s characters, he is also the most evil and the most amoral of the killers associated with the group.

All of the men who follow John Glanton are a group of violent rogues and ne’er-do-wells, but it is the judge, not Glanton, who quickly takes over the group. After a few days, the men discover that the Mexican authorities cannot tell who the scalps came from, and so they unleash their depravity in an orgy of raping and killing anyone they come across. Babies are crucified on trees, the judge indulges his taste for child molestation, and the kid is repeatedly told that the judge is keeping him alive so that he may kill him in some horrible way in the future. Holden leads the group into worse and worse situations, fighting and decimating Mexican troops and Native American tribes, each skirmish more outlandishly dangerous and bloody than the rest until, eventually, everyone is dead except for the kid and himself. Finally, the kid manages to lose the judge in the salt flats of the Great American Desert. Years after the massacres, the kid finds the judge once again in a saloon and it is intimated that the judge finally kills the kid and then returns to the saloon where he is last seen on stage, “naked, dancing . . . he will never die” (335). Much has been made of the historical antecedents of the book. John Sepich’s excellent book, Notes on Blood Meridian, explains that the story is based upon the Yuma Crossing massacre of 1850 and that some of the characters, including the judge, are drawn from real people, making the book’s cruelty all the more frightening. McCarthy’s language and his passion for the odd, the outcast, and the bloody plant him squarely within the tradition of the Southern Gothic. In Blood Meridian, there is no hope, no redemption, and no escape; racial divisions disappear in that all are evil, self-centered, and violent. Likewise, McCarthy undermines the western mythos of “white hat versus black hat” and presents instead an amoral place of death and mutilation where only the mad can flourish and survive. It seems as though McCarthy is suggesting that, as Terence Moran writes in The New Republic, the end result of the rugged individualism that Americans have so long romanticized about the Old West, and, indeed, have threaded into their national fabric, is a “crazed licentiousness. . . . A rootless quest for blood, money, loot, and women” (Moran, 38).


SOURCES McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian, or the Evening Darkness in the West. New York: Vintage, 1985. Moran, Terence. “The Wired West,” The New Republic 6 (May 1985): 37–38. Sepich, John. Notes on Blood Meridian. Miami: Cormac McCarthy Society, 1993. Michael Dittman

BLUEST EYE, THE TONI MORRISON (1970) MORRISON’s first novel depicts a black girl, Pecola Breedlove, at the moment she starts menstruating. From then on, destructive events take control in her life, primarily her father’s insistent sexual abuse, which results in her subsequent pregnancy and her mother’s rejection upon the discovery. Actually, the novel reaches its climax at the time Cholly starts raping his daughter; earlier chapters are devoted to introducing the different characters and preparing the reader for the description of the already known terrible denouement. From the beginning, Pecola’s friends Frieda and Claudia insist on discussing the new possibility of having children that developed for Pecola with her menses. The girls are the instrument that Morrison uses, through their innocence, to introduce later events in the narrative. Flashbacks and a technique based on fragmentation and storytelling in the voice of an adult Claudia shape the description of the life of Pecola and her family, with the help of an omniscient narrator for the most intimate details of the Breedlove family and how they relate to their past lives. The Breedloves represent the failure of traditional family life: Cholly and his wife, Pauline, fail to love their children in the proper way, for their own relationship is based on violence after their children are born. Cholly lacks a family model, being an orphan who grew up sleeping in the arms of different women. Unfaithful and often drunk, he ends his life in prison after destroying the lives of his wife and offspring Sammy and Pecola. Sammy abandons the house and his family out of embarrassment while Pecola carries in her body the indelible mark of her father’s abuse. Their lives disintegrate at the same speed as the punctuation marks of the text that open the novel and with which Morrison carries along the narrative, a text that depicts

a family life completely opposite to the Breedloves, who, paradoxically, breed everything but love. Pecola, the link that joins all the characters’ lives in the novel, finds herself unable to articulate her frustration until she decides that her happiness depends upon her having blue eyes, a way of “passing” (as white). The whiteness of the milk she drinks in the Shirley Temple cup also acts as a symbol of Pecola’s desire to become like the actress. Morrison’s reference to Imitation of Life, put in the mouth of Maureen Peal, the girl most assimilated to the white culture in the novel, may suggest the identification of Pecola and her mother, Pauline Breedlove, with the main characters of the movie: “Pecola? Wasn’t that the name of the girl in Imitation of Life? . . . The picture show, you know. Where this mulatto girl hates her mother ’cause she is black and ugly but then cries at her funeral. It was real sad. Everybody cries in it. . . . Anyway, her name was Pecola too. She was so pretty (52). The impressive blueness of her eyes, she thinks, makes people avoid looking at her, providing protection from neighborhood gossip as a result of the body change caused by her pregnancy. Being too visible suddenly makes her uncomfortable, as she is used to people ignoring her presence or making comments about her or her whole family’s ugliness. As a consequence, her identity suffers deep transformations: the seeing eyes are identified with the personal pronoun I, suggesting Pecola’s identity conflict. She embodies all gender, race, and class discriminations in the treatment she receives from her relatives, friends, and acquaintances. The ugliness of her family is remarked on constantly through the narrative, to the point where it seems to be equivalent to blackness, while white means beautiful. Cinematically speaking, Pauline, Pecola’s mother, stands for the surrogate mother, the perfect complement for the depiction of the white family described at the beginning of the novel: the stereotype of the “mammy” (black female house servant) portrayed in mainstream American fiction and film. The litany repeated throughout the narrative refers to the inner wishes of black girls to be like Shirley Temple and live


in a house with a white fence. Claudia, however, reveals herself as “the new negro” who really wants to make a difference and finds black is beautiful. Thus, she chooses Jane Withers as her idol, the actress remembered today as the antagonist of Miss Temple, and she claims recognition for the talent of Bill Robison (Bojangles), the tap dancer considered the best dancer of all times, who played Shirley Temple’s butler in Little Colonel and Littlest Rebel—both films released in 1935. The figure of the black servant is attractive by the film industry standards of the time. Pecola, Claudia, and Frieda are consequently influenced by the vision of black subordination although they prove unable to reverse their roles, except for Claudia. Then, it is not casual that Morrison places Claudia in the role of the narrator, for she will be the only one to confront discrimination and overcome the obstacles to controlling her life as the main actress in it. She moves forward, unlike the rest of the characters who are somehow crippled, physically or psychologically, or both; they show an inability to solve problems and confront their troubled existences. Pecola suffers from her ugliness and rape, Frieda is molested by Mr. Henry, whose sexual practices are deviant as are Soaphead Church’s encounters with girls. Pauline’s defective foot makes her attractive to her husband, Cholly, whose own personal conflict derives from sexual vexation suffered for the amusement of white men during his adolescence while having sexual intercourse for the first time on his aunt’s funeral day. Morrison’s accurate portrait of the time and location in the novel represents a tribute to the black organizations emerging in Manhattan of the 1930s.

SOURCES Graham, Maryemma, ed. Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. London: Vintage, 1999. Roberson, Gloria G. The World of Toni Morrison: A Guide to Characters and Places in Her Novels. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003. Smith, Valerie. Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987. Imelda Martín-Junquera

BLU’S HANGING LOIS-ANN YAMANAKA (1997) Upon its publication, Blu’s Hanging met with immediate critical acclaim. Critics considered the book “powerful,” “brilliant,” and “mesmerizing.” But when Blu’s Hanging was chosen as the Best Book of Asian American fiction of the year by a panel of judges from the Association of Asian American Studies, the decision provoked strong protest from Filipino Americans. The protesters charged that YAMANAKA’s portrayal of a minor character, “Uncle Paulo,” as a sexual predator, was an “insult” to Filipino Americans and reproduced the stereotypes of FilipinoAmerican men, whose sexuality has been perceived and represented as a “threat” to white “racial purity,” particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries when antimiscegenation laws were in effect in many states. Some critics suggest that complaints from Filipino Americans about the book are related to the marginalization of the Filipino-American community, in contrast to the economic and political power of Japanese Americans in Hawaii. In response to the protests and the demands that the award be rescinded, the board of judges suggested that a special issue of the Journal of Asian American Studies be devoted to an open discussion on the novel and the issues raised. But the protesters refused to reconcile their demands, and the judges eventually resigned. The award was rescinded. Not all Asian Americans shared the protesters’ views. In fact, some writers expressed unease about “censorship” and wrote letters in support of Yamanaka. This controversy over Blu’s Hanging is not an isolated incident. Other Asian-American writers have been criticized for, or accused of, perpetuating Asian-American stereotypes. At issue are the writers’ social responsibilities and artistic freedom, and the relations between literature and society. Even though Uncle Paulo is a minor character, the controversy over his portrayal has generated provocative discussions over these larger issues, including the distinctions between stereotypes and convincing characters. Blu’s Hanging is a tale of survival and coming of age in poverty, in a social environment of racial hierarchy, and without proper parental guardianship. The story is told from the perspective of the 13-year-old narrator, Ivah Ogata, a Japanese American who struggles to take care of her 10-year-old brother and five-year-old sister,


as well as her father, after her mother dies of kidney failure. Ivah’s task is rendered even more difficult not simply because of the lack of money or the constant absence of her father, who is a janitor and works two jobs, but also because each family member has been traumatized by the mother’s death. Devastated by the loss, Ivah’s little sister, Maisie, stops talking and wets her pants at school. She is abused by other children and mistreated by haole (white) teachers. Ivah’s younger brother, Blu, turns to food for comfort in his longing for his mother. His insatiable appetite for food and candy increases as he continues to suffer from his grief over his mother’s absence. While his obesity makes him feel even more insecure, his craving for candy and attention renders him vulnerable. He is sexually abused by an old Japanese-American man, and is raped by Uncle Paulo. In his trials and tribulations, it is his sister, not his father, who rescues him and takes care of him. Inconsolable in his grief for his wife’s death, the father has withdrawn into himself, becomes bad-tempered toward his children, and often neglects his parental obligations, but still needs his daughter Ivah to attend to his daily meals. Forced into adult obligations of motherhood and wifehood, Ivah relies on her memories of her mother for guidance and strength in coping with an impossible situation. She later receives advice and help from her much older cousin, “Big Sis,” and her lesbian lover, Maisie’s special-education teacher, Miss Sandra Ito. Homosexuality, though not directly dealt with in this novel, is present in Ivah’s coming-of-age experience. In contrast to the unsettling violence of sexual abuse, the lesbian relationship between Big Sis and Miss Ito provides a nurturing support network for Ivah and her siblings. Gradually all the family members are able to go through a healing process, and Ivah, with the assistance of Miss Ito, receives a scholarship to a Honolulu private high school. Both Big Sis and Miss Ito will take care of Blu and Maisie when Ivah leaves home to pursue her education. This story of bereavement and deprivation is also a moving story of love that helps the children survive the loss of their mother and hold the family together. Yamanaka is remarkably skillful in weaving into Ivah’s narrative the love story of Ivah’s parents, and a secret they have kept hidden from their children.

At the center of the story is Ivah’s growth, or rather the ethnic, female bildungsroman with a working-class background, in the unique multiracial and multicultural environment of Hawaii. Yamanaka most effectively portrays the differences of race, ethnicity, and class from the perspective of Ivah and through her struggles. Ivah learns about racism against Japanese Americans when her father asks her to go to the parent conference with Maisie’s haole/white teacher: “I no can handle haoles. Think they so holier-than-thou with their fast-talking mouth and everybody mo’ brown than them is dirt under their feet” (57). He relates this white superiority he perceives in Maisie’s teacher, Miss Owens, to racialized class difference established on the sugar plantations of Hawaii. When Ivah refers to her mother’s remarks that some whites are regular people, and “Only the real haolified haoles you gotta watch out for,” Ivah’s father responds by saying that only one out of a hundred haoles can be trusted as a friend. In Hawaii, standard English indicates racial superiority and class privilege. The father’s use of pidgin is a way of asserting his difference as resistance to assimilation, and as affirmation of his Japanese-American workingclass identity. When he answers a telephone call from Miss Owens, he speaks standard English, but when he hangs up, Ivah notes, “He’s mad at himself for kowtowing” (57). Pidgin, formally known as Hawaiian Creole English, is a marker of racial and social status in Hawaii and a trademark of Yamanaka’s novels, as well as a central subject matter in Blu’s Hanging and Yamanaka’s first novel, Wild Meat and Bully Burgers (1996). Like her father, Ivah insists on using pidgin as a language of her Japanese-American working-class identity. She continues to speak pidgin English during her meeting with Miss Owens even though the teacher tells her that they need to “speak to each other in standard English for the duration of this conference” because she finds pidgin English “so limited in its ability to express fully what we need to cover today” (59–60). But Ivah defies Miss Owens’s request. Yamanaka’s employment of pidgin in Blu’s Hanging and her other novels challenges precisely Miss Owens’s kind of prejudice against the language. Her insistence on using pidgin in all her novels is a gesture of resistance to assimilation, an

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acknowledgment of the history of colonialism, and a tribute to the vitality of the Hawaiian Creole English developed out of the plantation culture and a multiracial, multicultural society. Pidgin in Yamanaka’s novels is more than a form of resistance; it is also a source of creativity. Yamanaka employs a wide range of variations of pidgin English to capture distinct individual voices, including the voices of children. Much of the power and accomplishment of Blu’s Hanging reside in Yamanaka’s characterization through distinct voices in pidgin.

SOURCES Davis, Rocio. “Children on the Edge: Leaving Home in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on the Mango Street and Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s Blu’s Hanging.” In Literature on the Move: Comparing Diasporic Ethnicities in Europe and the Americas, edited by Dominique Marcais, Mark Niemeyer, Bernard Vincent, and Cathy Waegner, 37–47. American Studies: A Monograph Series, vol. 97. Heidelberg, Germany: Universitätsverlag Carl Winter, 2002. Fujikane, Candace. “Sweeping Racism under the Rug of ‘Censorship’: The Controversy Over Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s Blu’s Hanging,” Amerasia Journal 25, no. 2 (Fall 2000): 158–160. Harlan, Megan. Review of Blu’s Hanging by Lois-Ann Yamanaka, New York Times Book Review May 4, 1997: 21. Rodrigues, Darlene. “Imagining ourselves: reflections on the controversy over Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s Blu’s Hanging,” Amerasia Journal 25, no. 2 (Fall 2000): 195. Zhou Xiaojing


Fae Myenne NG’s Bone revolves around the tragic suicide of a daughter of a San Francisco Chinatown family, and the personal, cultural, and social questions this event forces the characters to negotiate. Leila Leong, Mah’s daughter from her first marriage, narrates the story of her family, which includes her stepfather, Leon, and her half sisters Ona and Nina. The narrative structure is of particular interest: the novel begins at the end, and is recounted by a newly married Leila, who looks back on her family and the Chinatown community where they grew up. The nonlinear process of remembering structures the novel. At the center of the narrative is the suicide of Leila’s middle sister, Ona, and the fam-

ily’s search for explanations. They revisit their history, their actions and decisions, in order to come to terms with the consequences of this event: Mah blames herself because of her affair with her boss, Tommie Hom; Leila thinks that she should have talked to her sister more; Leon believes that the family’s bad luck began when he did not fulfill his promise to Grandpa Leong to send his bones back to China. As the story unfolds, the reader infers that Ona’s leap to her death might have stemmed from her inability to be in the middle— between parents, sisters, cultures, and families. Her suicide also appears to result from problems between her family and her boyfriend’s family, over a failed business partnership. Chinatown itself becomes a protagonist in the novel, and Ng engages issues of Chinese immigrant history and its consequences. Ng recovers the hidden stories of Chinatown life. The Leong family history is emblematic of the revolution of both Chinatown and American institutions, as the old-timers tried to hide Chinatown stories of illegal immigration—specifically the practice of “paper sons,” in which Chinese men pretended to be sons of legal immigrants, thus gaining entry into the United States. Grandpa Leong is Leon’s “paper father,” leading the “son” to affirm that “In this country, paper is more precious than blood” (9). The necessary secrets of the Chinatown inhabitants separate the insiders from the mainstream world on the outside. Bone’s narrative structure itself reproduces this preoccupation with secrets. Leila tells us that her parents “were always saying, Don’t tell this and don’t tell that. Mah was afraid of what people inside Chinatown were saying and Leon was paranoid about everything outside Chinatown. We graduated from keeping their secrets to keeping our own” (118–19). The fact that Mah and Leon taught their children the need for silence profoundly affects Ona, who “got used to keeping everything inside” (19). But the old-timers’ silence was a strategy for survival; Ona’s silence is destructive, and represents the most radical consequences of Chinatown’s communal silence. This idea explains part of the sisters’ estrangement and suggests why no one truly understood the extent of Ona’s desperation. Leila recognizes that this obsession with secrets reverberates in herself.


The question of family ties and links to Chinatown obsesses the daughters, who progressively move away from Chinatown. Leila leaves by moving in with her boyfriend, Mason, and subsequently marrying him; Nina moves to New York and continues a pattern of flight by becoming a stewardess. Leila is perhaps the one who most easily crosses the borders between that culture-specific place and mainstream San Francisco. When Bone opens, Leila has already moved out; she returns briefly, to accompany her mother after Ona’s suicide, but she ultimately lives away, understanding that she can leave it and remember it at the same time. This character comprehends that her family history is one that simultaneously binds and burdens: it must be remembered yet left behind. Mah is the only character that cannot leave Chinatown; Leon escapes the trauma of Ona’s death by embarking on long sea voyages and temporarily taking up bachelor’s quarters in a hotel. In this novel structured by and about memory, where secrets and buried histories inform consciousness, and where the very notion of “home” is a complex issue, the ending of the novel stresses Leila’s continued connection with the place of her past. By challenging chronology, and leaving essential questions unanswered, Ng weaves a story that invites multilayered readings of issues of identity, authenticity, borders, and belonging.

SOURCES Aldama, Frederick Luis. “Spatial Re-Imaginations in Fae Myenne Ng’s Chinatown,” Hitting Critical Mass: A Journal of Asian American Cultural Criticism 1, no. 2 (Spring/Summer 1994): 85–102. Chuang, Jay. “Bone in Bone,” Hitting Critical Mass: A Journal of Asian American Cultural Criticism 2, no. 1 (Winter 1994): 53–57. Goellnicht, Donald. “Of Bones and Suicide: Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe and Fae Myenne Ng’s Bone,” Modern Fiction Studies 46, no. 2 (Summer 2000): 300–330. Ho, Wendy. In Her Mother’s House: The Politics of Asian American Mother-Daughter Writing. Walnut Creek, Calif.: Altamira Press, 1999. Kim, Thomas W. “ ‘For a Paper Son, Paper Is Blood’: Subjectivation and Authenticity in Fae Myenne Ng’s Bone,” MELUS 24, no. 4 (Winter 1999): 41–56. Ng, Fae Myenne. Bone. New York: Hyperion, 1993.

Sze, Julie. “Have You Heard?: Gossip, Silence, and Community in Bone.” Hitting Critical Mass: A Journal of Asian American Cultural Criticism 2, no. 1 (Winter 1994): 59–69. Yen, Xiaoping. “Fae Myenne Ng.” In Asian American Novel: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Emmanuel Nelson, 261–266. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000. Rocío G. Davis

BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES, THE TOM WOLFE (1987) Tom WOLFE’s first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, was published in 1987 to widespread critical and popular acclaim. Only days after its release, the dizzying pace and boundless decadence of 1980s Wall Street so enjoyed by the novel’s protagonist, wellborn bond trader Sherman McCoy, ground to a halt on Black Monday, the day of the largest one-day decline in recorded stock market history. This was the first of many “resonant” events that led readers to term Bonfire “prophetic.” But to Wolfe, the verisimilitude was of little surprise. Although begun in 1981 and serialized in an earlier form in Rolling Stone in 1984 and 1985, Bonfire was decades in the making, crafted with the keen observational, stylistic, and narrative skills Wolfe had honed in his pioneering practice of New Journalism, a hybrid form of nonfiction that employs novelistic techniques. Wolfe envisioned “a big book about the city of New York,” with the sprawling sociorealism of the Paris chronicled by Balzac and Zola, two of his idols. The result was a best-seller that earned comparisons to SISTER CARRIE and The GREAT GATSBY for its willingness to grapple with issues of status, desire, and the American dream in the 20th century. Wolfe approached these themes first by immersing himself in the subcultures of his diverse cast of characters. His “reporting,” which took him from the bondtrading floor to Bronx jail cells, allowed him to populate Bonfire with characters whose speech patterns, dress, professions, gait, and homes he could meticulously catalogue. Wolfe’s obsession with what he calls “status details,” from a drug dealer’s refusal to be seen in anything but “new-right-out-of-the-box snowwhite Reebok sneakers” to the McCoys’ Thomas Hope armchair (“Not a mahogany reproduction but one of


the rosewood originals!”), is viewed by some critics as distracting, overblown, and even vacuous. However, these details serve to delineate the myriad layers in a stratified New York City unified only by its drives for consumption, its various but omnipresent vanities. The titular bonfire in which they burn is an allusion to the crusade of Girolamo Savonarola, the Florence priest who ordered followers to throw their costliest ornaments into bonfires set in the public square and who was himself burned at the stake in 1498. Desire and ambition fuel not only the setting of Bonfire, but also its complex plot and characters. Subcultures first collide when 38-year-old Sherman McCoy, a self-proclaimed “Master of the Universe,” takes a wrong turn on the way back to Park Avenue and finds himself, along with his Mercedes roadster and young mistress, in the South Bronx on a barricaded highway ramp. After leaving the car to remove the obstruction, he is approached by two black youths and panics. An altercation ensues, and his mistress, Maria Ruskin, takes the wheel. She collects Sherman and speeds away, but not before hitting one of the two boys with a thok that haunts Sherman for weeks to come. Not eager to make his adultery a matter of public record, Sherman agrees with Maria, who is also married, not to go the police. The hit-and-run, reminiscent of Gatsby, sets the wheels of justice in realistically slow motion, a process that is propelled by a variety of interested parties, including a dipsomaniac British tabloid journalist, a frustrated Bronx assistant district attorney who resents the salaries of his corporate-employed former classmates, and a smooth-talking black political leader. All are eager to use the emerging story of a black youth, appropriately named Henry Lamb, slain by a white Upper East Sider to advance their own careers and ambitions. The question of what crime was committed and whether Sherman is in fact to blame quickly becomes irrelevant in the pursuit of headlines, soundbites, and a “Great White Defendant” in the fortresslike Bronx courthouse. The opening chapters provide the reader entry into distinct worlds that are separated by more than zip codes and tax brackets. The lives of Sherman, assistant D.A. Larry Kramer, and reporter Peter Fallow are

glimpsed through their eyes and the conditions in which they work, live, and try to love. Despite their differences, all are afflicted by what Wolfe has referred to as “money fever.” Finances are a constant source of angst, as much for penniless Peter as for Sherman, whose mind is filled with calculations of how he will make ends meet on $1 million a year. As Bonfire moves between “boldfaced parties” attended by emaciated charity-circuit women dubbed “social x-rays” and lunch-hour chats at the Bronx criminal courthouse, the reader comes to understand status as more than the province of the wealthy; each individual is jockeying for status, just within different groups. The 1990 film version of Bonfire, directed by Brian De Palma and starring Tom Hanks, was a box office disaster, in part because it sought to tell the multifaceted story from a single point of view, that of journalist Peter (Americanized and played by Bruce Willis), rather than through the worlds of New Yorkers of various classes on the occasion of a rare intersection. For all its urban sprawl, women are notably peripheral in Bonfire, which makes the panoramic view that Wolfe seeks ultimately incomplete. Nicholas Lemann views the women characters as universally underdeveloped and existing mainly as “foils for male preening.” Similarly, Wolfe’s ability to situate his characters so firmly within their subcultures, with what critic Frank Conroy calls “malicious glee,” leaves the reader with little sympathy for anyone. With no one to root for, the reader is swept up by the novel’s swift comic logic and left dazzled, perhaps satisfied, but in the end, curiously empty. Finally, in the critical haste to engage with the grand scale of the 659-page novel, Wolfe’s preoccupation in his nonfiction with what Chris Anderson called “the rhetorical problem of trying to communicate [an] experience” has gone unnoticed in Bonfire. The refrain of “How to tell them?” “How to tell it?” from Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, a chronicle of the drug culture of Ken KESEY and his Merry Pranksters, is reprised as Sherman struggles with how to explain the events behind his imminent arrest to his boss, parents, wife, and daughter. Wolfe seems to have struggled similarly with how to tell the reader how his story ends and closes the novel with an epilogue in the form of a


New York Times article that neatly tallies how the individuals concerned have emerged from this particular chain of events. Perhaps not surprisingly, given Bonfire’s author, it is Peter, the journalist, who comes out on top.

SOURCES Anderson, Chris. “Pushing the Outside of the Envelope.” In Style as Argument: Contemporary American Nonfiction, 8–47. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987. Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: Tom Wolfe. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2001. Conroy, Frank. Review of Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, New York Times Book Review, 1 November 1987, p. 46. Lemann, Nicholas. “New York in the Eighties,” Atlantic Monthly 260, no. 6 (December 1997): 104, 106–107. McKeen, William. Tom Wolfe. New York: Twayne, 1995. Scura, Dorothy, ed. Conversations with Tom Wolfe. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1990. Wolfe, Tom. Bonfire of the Vanities. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1987. Stephanie Murg

BONTEMPS, ARNA WENDELL (1902– 1973) Arna Bontemps was a highly influential member of the Harlem Literary Renaissance and, later, director of the Afro-American program at Yale University. It is, however, as a novelist and short-story writer that he is best remembered. Of his three novels, the best known is Black Thunder (1936). He was born on October 13, 1902, in Alexandria, Louisiana, to Paul Bismark Bontemps, a lay minister in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and Marie Carolina Pembrooke Bontemps, a former schoolteacher. Both parents were Creoles. Bontemps was educated at Pacific Union College, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1923 and at the University of Chicago, where he earned a master’s degree in 1943. He married Alberta Johnson in 1926, and, although he had begun publishing poetry in 1924, he turned to the novel, his first entitled God Sends Sunday (1931). Set in St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1890s, it features Little Augie, a jockey who lived life intensely both during his years as the city’s most successful jockey, and afterward, when he lost both fame and fortune. Bontemps collaborated

with Countee Cullen and adapted the novel to the stage as St. Louis Woman (1939). When it opened in New York in 1946, it ran for 113 performances. Black Thunder, his second novel, is a fictional treatment of an 1800 slave rebellion led by Gabriel Prosser in Henrico County, near Richmond, Virginia. Told in the first person in the tradition of the slave narrative, with Bontemps’s frequently praised ability to portray dialect, the novel covers the failure of the rebellion, unsuccessful because of a tremendous rainstorm and a traitor’s betrayal of the cause. Bontemps’s third novel, Drums at Dusk, also dealt with a slave rebellion, this time in Haiti at the time of the French Revolution. The young Frenchman protagonist sympathizes with the plight of the blacks and befriends Touissant-Louverture, the leader of the rebellion. During the last decades of his life, Bontemps became a significant figure in academia, holding librarian positions at Yale and Fisk Universities, where he established special research collections for the Harlem Renaissance writers Langston HUGHES, Jean TOOMER, James Weldon JOHNSON, and Countee Cullen. A biographer, historian, poet, short-story writer, and novelist, Bontemps also wrote more than 15 books for children. He died of a heart attack in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 4, 1973.

NOVELS Black Thunder. New York: Macmillan, 1936. Drums at Dusk. New York: Macmillan, 1939. God Sends Sunday. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1931.

SOURCES Baker, Houston A., Jr. Black Literature in America. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971. Bone, Robert A. The Negro Novel in America. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1958. Brown, Sterling. The Negro in American Fiction. Washington, D.C.: Association in Negro Folk Education, 1937. Reprint, New York: Atheneum, 1969. Conroy, Jack. “Memories of Arna Bontemps: Friend and Collaborator,” American Libraries (December 1974). Davis, Arthur P. “Arna Bontemps.” In From the Dark Tower: Afro-American Writers, (1900–1960). Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1974. Gloster, Hugh M. Negro Voices in American Fiction. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1948.


Jones, Kirkland C. Renaissance Man from Louisiana: A Biography of Arna Wendell Bontemps. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1992. McPherson, James M., et al. Blacks in America: Bibliographical Essays. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971. Nichols, Charles, ed. The Arna Bontemps-Langston Hughes Letters, 1925–1967. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1980. Page, James A. Selected Black American Authors: An Illustrated Bio-Bibliography. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1977. Whitlow, Roger. Black American Literature: A Critical History. Chicago, Ill.: Nelson-Hall, 1973. Young, James D. Black Writers in the Thirties. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1973.

BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, A JOAN DIDION (1977) At least four of DIDION’s five novels have as their central characters wealthy or upper-middle-class women with both significant strengths and profound weaknesses. They are prone to flee rather than fight, and usually make a series of poor choices that lead to insanity or death. In A Book of Common Prayer, Charlotte Douglas, the central character, leaves her second husband, stable attorney Leonard, in San Francisco and flees through the United States with her first husband, irresponsible Warren Bogart. Pregnant with Leonard’s child, Charlotte drifts south with Warren, the father of her first child, Marin, a revolutionary fugitive, finally settling alone in the fictitious Central American country of Boca Grande. Charlotte is strong enough to perform a tracheotomy on a choking man but too weak to resist the sexual attractions of her first husband or any other man—and they are usually not nice men—who appeals to her sexually. Warren Bogart is portrayed as a sexually compelling alcoholic with a mean tongue who occasionally has tender moments. After leaving Warren, who is dying of cancer, Charlotte travels from city to city, delivering a premature baby girl who dies in her arms in Mérida. Her journey ends in Boca Grande, a hot, small country on the verge of revolution. There she becomes friends with Grace StrasserMendana, a widowed anthropologist who narrates the novel, and has affairs with Grace’s brother-in-law as well as her son. Grace is the character whom the reader comes to know best. Fiercely intellectual, always striving for

detachment, Grace was a well-published anthropologist from Denver when she married a wealthy planter from Boca Grande and gave up her profession. To occupy her time, however, she studied biochemistry in depth, discovering that fear of the dark is a protein that can be synthesized in the laboratory. Now dying of cancer at age 60, Grace remains in the country because she finds peace in its “opaque equatorial light.” Grace is narrating events after their conclusion. Thus we know at the beginning that Charlotte will die in Boca Grande, and the movement of the fiction is not chronological but thematic, focused on incidents of characters’ lives and on the changes that take place in Grace’s attitude toward Charlotte. She states at the opening that the novel is her “witness” to the life and death of Charlotte Douglas, but by the book’s conclusion she has become a player in Charlotte’s life. Charlotte insists on considering Boca Grande as a series of tourist attractions, while Grace tries to show her the depressing realities. Grace fails to persuade Charlotte to leave the country when a revolution is imminent, and when she returns, she finds Charlotte’s body on the lawn of the American embassy. No one knows which side shot her. Grace takes care of Charlotte in death, securing a coffin and sending her body to San Francisco. She also fulfills Charlotte’s implicit request that she find Marin and inform her of her mother love and her death. She finds Marin in a dirty room in an apartment in Buffalo, still openly rejecting her mother and her values, but breaking down when Grace reminds her of a particular childhood trip that they took together. No one in A Book of Common Prayer expresses love for anyone else in words, but Grace, Leonard, and Charlotte express affection and commitment through their actions. Grace and Leonard each try to protect Charlotte both emotionally and physically. Charlotte tried to save her premature baby, and in Boca Grande she devotes herself to a clinic providing vaccinations for children and birth control for women. In the end Charlotte dies, her baby dies, and Grace is close to death. Through loving actions as well as the title of the book, Didion is dramatizing ideas that are both spiritual and existential. We have death in common, but we can care for each other in this life. We can also use


words to pray for each other; the book is in fact a prayer for Charlotte, her family, and the little country that is torn by revolution on a regular basis. Although Grace planned to be a “witness” to Charlotte’s life in a dispassionate account, she actually served as a maternal, spiritual, and mentoring figure who loaned Charlotte the “grace” of truth and love. Delusion is another prominent theme, as it is in most of Didion’s work. Charlotte persists in claiming that she is part of a loving, orderly family. She believed that Marin was an enrolled student at Berkeley when her daughter was part of a radical group plotting to blow up the Transamerica building in San Francisco. She repeatedly tells Grace that she and her husband are “inseparable” and she and Marin are “inseparable.” She makes innumerable trips to the airport, expecting vainly that Marin will come to Boca Grande to join her. In fact, there are no stable, happy families in the novel. Charlotte is similarly deluded about cultural differences and about the meaning of wars and revolutions, which she regards as part of an inevitable progression toward an orderly society in an orderly world. Grace describes her as “immaculate of history, innocent of politics.” When Leonard comes to Boca Grande to try to persuade Charlotte to leave, however, Grace learns that she also has lived her life under delusions about people close to her. She thought of her dead husband as a planter who did not engage in politics, but learned from Leonard that he, with Leonard’s help in importing arms, had financed the Tupamaros guerrillas. Neither Charlotte nor either of her husbands change in the course of the novel’s events. The narrator’s perceptions are substantially changed, however. Grace started by believing that human personality can be explained by biochemistry and concluded by viewing it as essentially mysterious. She began by being detached from her past and from other people and concluded by caring profoundly about Charlotte. Didion sees both dignity and pathos in such situations: even when the protective impulse fails, the person who cares is ennobled. Human life is not guided by rational or scientific principles. The book cannot explain the fates of its characters, so it becomes a prayer for all of them, but a prayer to an elusive deity.

SOURCES Didion, Joan. A Book of Common Prayer. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1977. Felton, Sharon, ed. The Critical Response to Joan Didion, Critical Responses in Arts and Letters, vol. 8. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1994. Showalter, Elaine, Lea Baechler, and A. Walton Litz, eds. Modern American Women Writers. New York: Collier Books; Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada; New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1993. Stout, Janis P. Through the Window, out the Door: Women’s Narratives of Departure, from Austin and Cather to Tyler, Morrison and Didion. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998. Winchell, Mark Royden. Joan Didion. Boston: Twayne, 1989. Katherine Usher Henderson

BOOK OF DANIEL, THE E. L. DOCTOROW (1971) E. L. DOCTOROW’s 1971 novel focuses on Daniel Isaacson, the disturbed son of parents executed for giving the secret of the atomic bomb to the USSR. While working on his Ph.D. in the late 1960s, Daniel tries to reconcile what he reads, particularly historical studies, with his own experience in an effort to make sense of his past and present. Still troubled by the deaths of his parents, puzzled at his sister Susan’s attempted suicide, and confused about his dissertation topic, Daniel begins his narrative as a way of establishing the guilt or innocence of his parents. Drawing on a wealth of research materials, Daniel identifies historical patterns and tendencies, describes different types of corporal punishment, and analyzes the distribution and uses of power, only to find that history explains very little. Daniel comes to believe that accepting sanctioned narrative forms and language means accepting complicity with existing power structures. As a result, his narrative wanderings and his subsequent evasion of closure are evidence of a subversive refusal to be coopted by any discourse that seeks to rationalize and justify his parents’ death. Daniel even indicts the Left for its own naïveté and its glorification of martyrdom. His father believes almost to the very end that “you cannot put innocent people to death in this country. It can’t be done. The truth will reclaim us” (249). With their faith in the


law and their determination to be seen as victims, Daniel’s parents doom themselves through their own self-dramatization. Artie Sternlicht, Doctorow’s fictionalized version of Abbie Hoffman, contends that the American Communists “were into the system . . . they played it [the trial] by their rules. The government’s rules” (150–51). Sternlicht also criticizes the New Left, pointing out that the academic words thrown around “aren’t words. Those are substitutes for being alive. . . . If you want to sit here and beat your meat, all right, but don’t call it revolution” (137). Later, when Daniel meets with others outside the Pentagon to return his draft card, he highlights the impotence of protest: “The pouch is delivered to the Justice Department, the demonstration ends, and nothing seems to have happened except the demonstration” (252). As the novel progresses, Daniel understands we are not merely helpless victims but willing coconspirators in the maintenance of political and economic power. This insight is especially evident in his analysis of Disneyland, where he points out how works such as Alice in Wonderland and Huck Finn are stripped of their subversive quality and made into palatable commodities. He notes that those enjoying the Mad Hatter’s Teacup Ride have most likely not read Alice in Wonderland and have probably seen the Disney film instead. The same applies to historical re-creation rides such as the Pirates of the Caribbean. This suggests to him that “what is being offered does not suggest the resonance of the original work but is only a sentimental compression of something that is itself already a lie” (288). He sees here the creation of an “abbreviated shorthand culture” in which “the ideal Disneyland patron . . . responds to a process of symbolic manipulation that offers him his culminating and quintessential sentiment at the moment of a purchase” (289). In such a place, where people participate in being manipulated and co-opted, Daniel recognizes how complicit everyone is in the maintenance of such a system. And, no matter how bleak that message may sound, it is a triumph—albeit a small one—that such a recognition is possible in the heart of Disneyland. It gives hope that the subversive artist can exist within that society yet still stand far enough outside to critique it.

Early in the novel, Susan ridicules Daniel for his lack of commitment to a cause, claiming that “you cop out with this phony cynicism bag that conveniently saves you from doing anything. . . . You’d rather jerk off behind a book” (81). By the end of this novel, Daniel finds that the only liberation is in closing the book—escaping from the forms and language sanctioned by the economic and political system—and entering the world of action, no matter how futile your efforts might be. Although his book does not give readers a guideline about how to change the world, it does avoid the dead ends of academic theorizing, because for Daniel such theorizing ultimately becomes, like Disneyland, “a substitute for experience” (289).

SOURCES Fowler, Douglas. Understanding E. L. Doctorow. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1992. Levine, Paul. E. L. Doctorow. London: Methuen, 1985. Morris, Christopher D. Models of Misrepresentation: On the Fiction of E. L. Doctorow. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1991. Siegel, Ben, ed. Critical Essays on E. L. Doctorow. New York: G. K. Hall, 2000. Williams, John. Fiction as False Document: The Reception of E. L. Doctorow in the Postmodern Age. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1996. Monty Kozbial Ernst

BOWLES, JANE AUER (1917–1973) Jane Bowles exerted a strong influence on modernist fiction. The author of the play In the Summer House (1953) and short stories posthumously collected as Plain Pleasures (1966), Bowles was interested in morality, sexuality, and, increasingly, psychological realism. Two Serious Ladies (1943), her only novel, like the work of other modernists from Edith WHARTON to Ernest HEMINGWAY, left gaps in the text for readers to fill. Although Two Serious Ladies did not sell well in the United States, it was popular in England; the playwright Alan Sillitoe called it a “landmark in 20th century American literature.” (Jane Bowles Obituary) Jane Auer Bowles was born on February 22, 1917, in New York City, to Sidney Major Auer of Cincinnati, an insurance agent, and Claire Stajer Auer of New York City, a former teacher. Bowles was educated privately


and in public schools until a horseback-riding accident; her mother sent her to Leysin, Switzerland, for treatment to her leg. She returned to the United States in 1934, with a permanent limp, and had several affairs with women before marrying composer and author Paul BOWLES, who was equally open about his homosexuality, in 1938. The two expatriates roamed Europe, North Africa, Central America, and Mexico, forming connections with musicians and with Carson McCULLERS, Tennessee WILLIAMS, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, and with Gertrude STEIN and her partner, Alice B. Toklas. Two Serious Ladies features Christina Goering, a monied, privileged socialite who renounces luxury in expiation for the sin that she obsessively associates with her wealth; and Frieda Copperfield, who renounces her husband for a Central American prostitute. It was Paul Bowles who pointed to humor as an essential part of Jane Bowles’s work. In this novel, the humor derives from the juxtaposition of the two women’s serious statements about their distinctly superficial seedy lives. Contemporary critics suggest that Paul Bowles’s most celebrated work, The SHELTERING SKY (1949), owes a great deal to Two Serious Ladies. After the couple moved to Tangier, Morocco, in the late 1940s, Jane Auer Bowles became increasingly disoriented. Her lesbian affairs and liaisons became more frequent, she suffered a number of strokes, became dependent on drugs and alcohol, and, after a diagnosis of manic-depressive psychosis, was institutionalized in Spain. Since her death in Malaga, Spain, in 1973, Two Serious Ladies has become a cult novel. Bowles’s unpublished work has been collected and published. Her letters and 18 notebooks are at the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

NOVEL Two Serious Ladies. New York: Knopf, 1943.

SOURCES Aldridge, John W. After the Lost Generation. New York: Noonday, 1951. Allen, Walter. The Modern Novel. New York: Dutton, 1965. Bainbridge, John. Another Way of Living: A Gallery of Americans Who Choose to Live in Europe. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968.

Dillon, Millicent. A Little Original Sin New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1981. ———, ed. Out in the World: Selected Letters of Jane Bowles, 1935–1990. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1985. Lacey, R. Kevin, and Francis Poole. Mirrors on the Maghrib: Critical Reflections on Paul and Jane Bowles and Other American Writers in Morocco. Delmar, N.Y.: Caravan Books, 1996. Sawyer-Laucanno, Christopher. An Invisible Spectator: A Biography of Paul Bowles. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1989.

OTHER “Jane Bowles, Novelist, Is Dead; Author of ‘Two Serious Ladies,’ ” (Obituary from New York Times, 31 May 1973). The Authorized Paul Bowles Web Site. Available online. URL: http://www.paulbowles.org/janeobituary.htm. Accessed December 5, 2005.

BOWLES, PAUL FREDERICK (1910–1999) Paul Bowles, a 20th-century Renaissance man, has had a significant impact on American literature. Although he was a composer, a translator, a painter, and a poet, he is best known as a novelist and short-story writer who imagined and created bleak and disintegrating modern worlds. He wrote four critically acclaimed novels, the best known of which is The SHELTERING SKY (1949). Bowles is often compared with French existentialist writers Andre Gide and Albert Camus, and with the Beat writers Jack KEROUAC and William S. BURROUGHS. With a career spanning most of the 20th century, Bowles received the 1950 National Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and, in 1980, a National Book Award nomination for his Collected Stories of Paul Bowles, 1939–1976. Paul Bowles was born on December 20, 1910, in New York City, to Claude Dietz, a dentist, and Rena Winnewisser Bowles. He was educated by brilliant mentors; Bowles studied music composition with Aaron Copland and became interested in prose writing when he met Gertrude STEIN. His wife, Jane Auer, whom he married in 1938, was an additional influence; she was writing Two Serious Ladies (1943) while the couple was living in Morocco in one of their numerous homes. His first novel, The Sheltering Sky, concerns a married American couple, Port and Kit


Moresby, who, together with their friend Tunner, journey to the Sahara. That trip serves as a metaphorical quest for the spirit—and it is found wanting. Port and Kit become isolated from the rest of society, Port becomes terminally ill, and Kit abandons him to become the sexual slave of a series of Arab men; by the time French authorities reach her, she has lost her identity and cannot recall her own name. The novel has been widely praised and compared with Ernest HEMINGWAY’s The SUN ALSO RISES (1926) and Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano (1947). His second novel, Let It Come Down (1952), a tale of theft and murder, takes its title from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and involves Nelson Dyar, a bank clerk. He escapes his life in New York and settles in Tangier only to find that he is falling apart. His meeting with the expatriate Daisy de Valverde recalls Henry JAMES’s DAISY MILLER and the Jamesian insight about Americans in Europe. The Spider’s House (1955), set during a rebellion in Fez, Morocco, presents four expatriates from France and America. The protagonist, Stenham, is an American novelist who provides a bridge between his own culture and that of Amar, the main Moroccan character. After a long silence while Bowles cared for his wife, who suffered a stroke and died in 1973, he published novels that many critics believe to be his best. Up above the World (1966) narrates the tale of Taylor Slade, a retired doctor. With his young second wife Day, he boards a ship and reaches his fictional Latin American destination only to learn that Mrs. Rainmantle, one of their fellow travelers, has been murdered. The novel details the attempt to erase the murder from the Slades’ memories. Points in Time (1982) is a much admired, innovative work that blends fiction and nonfiction, making it nearly impossible to categorize. His powerful, skillfully crafted and measured prose frequently describes cultural misunderstandings and identity disintegration in nightmarish terms and continues to attract new readers. In 1990, Warner Brothers released a feature film version of The Sheltering Sky, narrated by Bowles and starring John Malkovich and Debra Winger. Paul Bowles died on November 18, 1999. His manuscripts are housed at the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin; his letters can be found at the Beinecke Library at Yale University.

NOVELS Let It Come Down. New York: Random House, 1952. Points in Time. New York: Echo Press, 1982. The Sheltering Sky. New York: New Directions, 1949. The Spider’s House. New York: Random House, 1955. Up above the World. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1966.

SOURCES Aldridge, John W. After the Lost Generation. New York: Noonday, 1951. Allen, Walter. The Modern Novel. New York: Dutton, 1965. Bainbridge, John. Another Way of Living: A Gallery of Americans Who Choose to Live in Europe. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968. Bertens, Hans. The Fiction of Paul Bowles: The Soul Is the Weariest Part of the Body. Atlantic Highlands. N.J.: Humanities, 1979. Caponi, Gena Dagel. Paul Bowles: Romantic Savage. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1994. Dillon, Millicent. You Are Not I: A Portrait of Paul Bowles. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Green, Michelle. The Dream at the End of the World: Paul Bowles and the Literary Renegades in Tangier. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. Hibbard, Allen. Paul Bowles: A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne, 1993. Lacey, R. Kevin, and Francis Poole. Mirrors on the Maghrib: Critical Reflections on Paul and Jane Bowles and Other American Writers in Morocco. Delmar, N.Y.: Caravan Books, 1996. Miller, Jeffrey. Paul Bowles: A Descriptive Bibliography. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1986. Patteson, Richard F. A World Outside: The Fiction of Paul Bowles. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987. Paul Bowles: The Complete Outsider. Directed by Regina Weinreich and Catherine Warnow, Film documentary, 1994. Pulsifer, Gary, ed. Paul Bowles by His Friends. London: Peter Owen, 1992. Sawyer-Laucanno, Christopher. An Invisible Spectator: A Biography of Paul Bowles. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989. Solotaroff, Theodore. The Red Hot Vacuum and Other Pieces on the Writing of the Sixties. New York: Atheneum, 1970. Steen, Mike. A Look at Tennessee Williams. New York: Hawthorn, 1969. Stewart, Lawrence D. The Illumination of North Africa. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1974.

OTHER The Authorized Paul Bowles Web Site. Available online. URL: http://www.paulbowles.org. Accessed March 12, 2006.


BOYLE, KAY (1902–1992)

A member of the expatriate group that made Paris its literary and literal home during the 1920s and 1930s, Kay Boyle lived in France for nearly two decades; during that time she wrote the many short stories and novels for which she is most renowned. In addition to volumes of poetry and essays, children’s books, and numerous articles, Boyle spent six decades producing 18 novels and novellas and scores of “New Yorker stories,” a genre she is credited with inventing. Her novels chronicle the woes of expatriate artists, usually women, and she concentrates on the destructiveness of war, especially that caused by Nazism. Boyle’s experimental style, including stream of consciousness and interior monologue, has prompted comparisons with the modernists James Joyce, William FAULKNER, and Virginia Woolf. In the 1960s, both PLAGUED BY THE NIGHTINGALE and Year before Last were reissued, and MY NEXT BRIDE frequently appears on the reading lists for courses in modernism and feminist literature. Boyle was born on February 15, 1902, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Howard P. Boyle, a businessman, and Katherine Evans Boyle, an independent woman who influenced Boyle’s political activism and championed her involvement with social justice. Reared mainly in Cincinnati, Ohio, Boyle married Richard Brault in 1922, moved with him to France in 1923, lived with Ernest Walsh, editor of This Quarter, in Grasse, France, in 1926, and signed the “Revolution of the Word” issue of Transition magazine in 1929. In the 1930s, Boyle, now an accomplished poet, divorced Brault and married Laurence Vail. She wrote some of her finest stories and novels during this period, including Plagued by the Nightingale, Year before Last, and My Next Bride, all of which address complications within heterosexual relationships, although Gentlemen, I Address You Privately (1933) was one of the first novels to focus on homosexuality. Death of a Man (1936), too, was revolutionary, containing one of the first portraits of a Nazi, here an idealistic doctor who believes that the Nazis will bring good, rather than evil, into the world. Monday Night (1938) details the disappointments of an aspiring writer, and both Bridegroom’s Body (1938) and The Crazy Hunter (1940) demonstrate the weaknesses and constraints of marriage.

In the 1940s, Boyle concentrated on what have come to be known as her “international novels,” most of which occur during the World War II years. Primer for Combat (1942), set in Nazi-occupied France during the collaboration and resistance period, features an American expatriate who tries to view both movements as the results of German occupation. Avalanche (1944), serialized in the Saturday Evening Post, one of the first books written about the French resistance, was unusual in having a woman as the protagonist. That phenomenon is repeated in A Frenchman Must Die (1946), another serialized French resistance novel. Her novel 1939 (1948) uses the device of separated lovers in two different countries, each on a different side of the war. In His Human Majesty (1949), Boyle takes a look at occupied Germany and turns her attention to the Americans, whom she sees as racist and power-hungry. During the McCarthy era, Boyle’s third husband, Baron Joseph von Franckenstein (she had divorced Vail in 1943) was dismissed from his foreign service post and she from her New Yorker job. She continued, however, in her short stories and novels, to criticize the mentality of war. In The Seagull on the Steps (1955) and Generation without Farewell (1960), Boyle focuses on a German protagonist who must deal with postwar guilt. In her last novel, The Underground Woman (1975), Boyle uses the character of an older woman as a spokeswoman for her own beliefs about the evils of war and racism and the morality of social activism and protest. Boyle taught at San Francisco State University until 1980. She was awarded an American Book Award in 1984 from the Before Columbus Foundation for lifetime achievement. After her death in San Francisco on December 27, 1992, Boyle’s papers and manuscripts were donated to the Morris Library, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

NOVELS Avalanche. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1944. The Crazy Hunter. New York: Harcourt, 1940. Death of a Man. New York: Harcourt, 1936. A Frenchman Must Die. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1946. Generation without Farewell. New York: Knopf, 1960. Gentlemen, I Address You Privately. New York: Smith & Haas, 1933.

BOYLE, T. C. 171

His Human Majesty. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1949. Monday Night. New York: Harcourt, 1938. My Next Bride. New York: Harcourt, 1934. New York: Virago, 1986. 1939. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1948. Plagued by the Nightingale. London: Cape & Smith, 1931. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1969. Primer for Combat. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1942. The Seagull on the Step. New York: Knopf, 1955. Three Short Novels [includes Bridegroom’s Body, Decision, Crazy Hunter]. Boston: Beacon, 1958. The Underground Woman. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975. Year Before Last. New York: Harrison Smith, 1932. Carbondale: University of Southern Illinois Press, 1969.

SOURCES Bell, Elizabeth S. Kay Boyle: A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne, 1992. Boyle, Kay, and Robert McAlmon. Being Geniuses Together, 1920–1930. San Francisco, Calif.: North Point, 1984. Elkins, Marilyn Roberson. Critical Essays on Kay Boyle. New York: G. K. Hall, 1997. ———. Metamorphosizing the Novel: Kay Boyle’s Narrative Innovations. New York: Peter Lang, 1993. Hileman, Sharon L. “Kay Boyle.” In American Women Writers, 1900–1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Laurie Champion, 45–53. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000. Madden, Charles F. Talks with Authors. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968. Mellen, Joan. Kay Boyle: Author of Herself. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994. Spanier, Sandra Whipple. Kay Boyle: Artist and Activist. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1986. Tooker, Dan, and Roger Hofheins. “Kay Boyle.” In Fiction! Interviews with Northern California Novelists, edited by Dan Tooker and Roger Hofheins, 15–35. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1976. Wilson, Edmund. Classics and Commercials: A Literary Chronicle of the Forties. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1950. Yalom, Marilyn, ed. Women Writers of the West Coast. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Capra Press, 1983.

BOYLE, T(HOMAS) C(ORAGHESSAN) (1948– ) A finalist for the 2003 National Book Award for Drop City, his most recent novel, T. C. Boyle has written nine novels and six short-story collections. Many critics consider him to be a postmod-

ern 20th-century Charles Dickens who draws attention through his satirically conceived novels and stories to a variety of social ills. Although he is often grouped with John BARTH and Thomas PYNCHON, he seems more readable because of the sheer rollicking enthusiasm encoded in his hyperbolic, parodic, and often fantastic tales. T. C. Boyle was born on December 2, 1948, in Peekskill, New York, to Thomas John Boyle, a school bus driver, and Rosemary Post McDonald Boyle, a secretary, both of whom died of complications of alcoholism before Boyle turned 30. The 17-year-old Boyle, named after his father, changed his middle name to Coraghessan in an apparent attempt to distance himself from him. The name comes from his mother’s family. Boyle graduated from the State University of New York in 1968 and married Karen Kvashay in 1974. In 1977 Boyle was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, and he has taught at the University of Southern California ever since. After publishing The Descent of Man, his much lauded story collection (which was also his doctoral dissertation at Iowa), Boyle published his first novel, Water Music, in 1981. It is a comedic, picaresque treatment of the 18th-century Scottish explorer, Mungo Park, and his contemporary fictional counterpart and confidence man, Ned Rise, as they travel through parts of Africa and cruise the Niger River. Boyle’s satiric humor reappears in Budding Prospects (1984), as Felix Nasmyth, a disillusioned teacher, finds new energy in a quintessentially American getrich-quick scheme: growing and selling marijuana during the California hippie era. Despite mainly unreliable rural, establishment, and hippie associates, Nasmyth learns the merits of hard work. Although Boyle continued to publish short fiction (Greasy Lake and Other Stories [1985], If the River Was Whiskey [1989], Without a Hero and Other Stories [1994]), most readers feel that the expansive nature of the novel has given Boyle’s talents some needed room. World’s End (1987), winner of a PEN/Faulkner Award, depicts the complex and intertwined history of three families over 10 generations in New York’s Hudson River Valley. With considerable skill, Boyle shows how traits replicate themselves in three families: the


tenant-farming Dutch Van Brunts, the displaced Kitchawank Mohonks, and the supercilious landowning Dutch Van Warts. In East Is East (1990), Boyle describes the discrimination suffered by Hiro Tanaka, a 20-year-old Japanese seaman who has fled his native country. Tanaka, son of an American soldier and a Japanese bar hostess, is viewed as a second-class citizen. Now he is in Georgia, U.S.A., interacting with other characters in an Okeefenokee Swamp writer’s colony. Boyle’s fifth novel, The Road to Wellville (1993), targets America’s obsession with health and self-improvement. Health expert Dr. John Kellogg, sanitarium patient Will Lightbody, and entrepreneur Charlie Ossining come together at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan where the road to health is through the colon and the primary metaphor is the enema. The Tortilla Curtain (1995) features two couples: Delaney and Kira Mossbacher, a yuppie Southern California couple, and Candido Rincon and his wife, illegal immigrants whose concerns with survival contrast with the selfindulgent concerns of the Mossbachers. Riven Rock (1998) explores men’s feelings for women through Stanley McCormick, son of the inventor of the reaper, and Katherine Dexter, the first woman to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Stanley’s obsession with women sends him to a California asylum called Riven Rock. A Friend of the Earth (2000), another of Boyle’s California novels, features ecoterrorist Tyrone Tierwater, who evolves from typical American consumer to defender of flora and fauna; critics point out that while Boyle is serious about environmental issues, and poignantly describes the death of Tyrone’s daughter Sierra in a fall from a giant redwood, his signature humor is omnipresent. Drop City (2003) revives two groups endemic to the American pioneering spirit: aging hippies and Alaskan homesteaders, and transports the hippies from Norm Sender’s Sonoma County, California, ranch to rural Alaska. They meet Sess and Pamela Harder, two tough individualists who wish to live off the land. A violent denouement exposes the strengths and weaknesses in both groups. Boyle and his wife Karen live near Santa Barbara where he continues to teach and to write.

NOVELS Budding Prospects: A Pastoral. New York: Viking, 1984. Drop City. New York: Viking, 2003. East Is East. New York: Viking, 1990. A Friend of the Earth. New York: Viking, 2000. Riven Rock. New York: Viking, 1998. The Road to Wellville. New York: Viking, 1993. The Tortilla Curtain. New York: Viking, 1995. Water Music. Boston: Atlantic–Little Brown, 1981. World’s End. New York: Viking, 1987.

SOURCES Adams, Elizabeth. “An Interview with T. C. Boyle,” Chicago Review 37, nos. 2–3 (1991): 51–63. Lyons, Bonnie, and Bill Oliver, eds. Passion and Craft: Conversations with Notable Writers. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. Pope, D. “A Different Kind of Postmodernism,” Gettysburg Review 3 (Autumn 1990): 658–669.

OTHER TCBoyle.com. Available online. URL: http://www.tcboyle. com. Accessed June 3, 2005. USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. “T. C. Boyle.” Available online. URL: http://www.usc.edu/assets/college/faculty/ profiles/133. html. Accessed June 3, 2005.

BOY’S OWN STORY, A EDMUND WHITE (1982) Edmund White’s A Boy’s Own Story—the first in his semiautobiographical trilogy, which includes The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988) and The Farewell Symphony (1997)—has become one of the classic “comingout novels” that were a staple of emerging gay literature during the 1970s and ’80s. While this genre has come under fire for its often assimilationalist politics (McRuer, 29, 33), White’s novel works within the genre’s conventions to show the agony inherent in discovering one’s identification with a stigmatized lifestyle. Editions printed after 1994 should include that year’s introduction by White, which tells the context around writing the novel and also helps to explain some of the artistic methods White employs. Significantly, White gives very little to his nameless narrator in the way of personality, description, or individual identity. Critics occasionally compare his facelessness with Ralph ELLISON’s invisible man. The quality even led one reviewer to suggest that this boy could be anyone and anyone could identify with him—even


across gender lines (Lehmann-Haupt). The lack of specifics, however, does not end with the boy’s personality. Besides saying that he grew up in a smaller midwestern city, the exact geographical setting of the novel remains mysterious throughout as well. The invisible qualities of both the narrator and his location have come under fire from Robert McRuer, who suggests that both work in racially discriminatory ways, but David Bergman presents an interesting defense. Bergman says that these narrative techniques code his race in ways that any reader can grasp while freeing White’s narrator to write less of his class and race positions and focus instead on the narrator’s more defining identity of an oppressed sexual orientation (Bergman, 2004, 71–72). The thin veneer of plot throughout most of A Boy’s Own Story allows White to move his readers back and forth in time fairly effortlessly. The boy’s maturing happens as we see snapshots of him between the ages of seven and 15 and hear him recount the story of his sexual encounters after the age of 11. Many of his sexual encounters are with others close to his age and happen after his advances—the notable encounters with older people also happen after he has approached them. The disorienting quality of time fluidity almost confuses the fact that we read of the narrator’s sex with another boy at age 13 and that his sister, before age 12, reveals strong sadistic homoerotic tendencies. Yet neither of these moments will put too many readers off; the active practice of sex at his young age seems relatively harmless and essentially developmental for the narrator. The narrator’s encounters with the children of the wealthy, a young woman, and street hustlers help develop one of the strains of contemporary gay literature in general— the paradoxically freeing and entrapping qualities of promiscuity. Indeed, White begins the novel by having his narrator learn that two men could enjoy having sex at the same time, consequently setting the focus on the sexual acts of men as well as on the place of homosexual men in 1950s American culture. The narrator’s most active and recurrent fantasies involve an older man taking him away to another world. White twists the standard damsel-in-distress theme by having the narrator dream primarily of his distant father taking him away. This idea returns at several different points in the novel; the narrator

repeatedly wants to be the person pleasing his usually inaccessible father’s whims. Chronologically, this develops in the earliest portion of the novel directly following his parents’ divorce and father’s remarriage. His desire to possess his father’s love begins the most interesting theme of the story: The narrator wants his father—and his father’s status—for social advancement. We hear of his stepmother’s success in society and can interpret the narrator’s desire to supplant her in the roles of both wife and society woman. Power motivates the narrator; his final bid for maturity involves exercising power over a bisexual man who teaches at the narrator’s private school. The narrator’s plot to tell school officials of the man’s marijuana stash and then have a sexual encounter with the man in the same day provides the final tension and the narrator’s ascendancy to adult or near-adult status. The betrayal of his teacher indicates an unfulfilled struggle to come to terms with homosexuality in ways that resist patriarchal structures, and thereby reveals the final compromise he makes to achieve maturity.

SOURCES Bergman, David. Gaiety Transfigured: Gay Self-Representation in American Literature. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1991. ———. The Violet Hour: The Violet Quill and the Making of Gay Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher. “Books of the Times,” New York Times, 17 December 1982, p. C37. McRuer, Robert. The Queer Renaissance: Contemporary American Literature and the Reinvention of Lesbian and Gay Identities. New York: New York University Press, 1997. Radel, Nicholas F. “Self as Other: The Politics of Identity in the Works of Edmund White.” In Queer Words, Queer Images: Communication and the Construction of Homosexuality, edited by R. Jeffrey Ringer. New York: New York University Press, 1994. White, Edmund. A Boy’s Own Story. New York: Plume, 1994. ———. The Burning Library: Essays, edited by David Bergman. New York: Vintage, 1995. John Wiehl

BRADBURY, RAY(MOND) (DOUGLAS) (1920– ) Along with Isaac ASIMOV, Ray Bradbury, recipient of the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Science Fiction Writers of American


Grand Master Award, is considered one of the major science fiction writers of the 20th century. His already fine reputation in those genres has evolved and now includes mainstream readers and critics (Mogen, 10). Although he is best known as a writer of short stories, he has produced six novels, including FAHRENHEIT 451 (1953) and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962). Discerning critics point out that in both novels Bradbury is an astute social commentator and a prober into psychological and human issues. In the words of Bradbury scholar George M. Slusser, “What is profoundly American in Bradbury is that behind the ‘facade of childhood innocence’—lies a dark vision of the human condition deeply tainted by Calvinism” (Slusser, 26). Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, to Leonard Spaulding Bradbury and Esther Moberg Bradbury. Within five years after his 1938 high school graduation, Bradbury had become a full-time writer. He married Marguerite Susan McClure in 1947. After the success of The MARTIAN CHRONICLES (1950), a collection of linked short fiction that is considered by some critics a novel, Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, frequently compared to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Made into a popular film, Fahrenheit 451 is the name of a futuristic fire department that does not extinguish fires: Instead, it starts them when an individual is found guilty of reading or owning books. The fireman protagonist, Guy Montag, finally understands the value of books through his friendship with young Clarisse; she takes him to see the secret society of those who are preserving books by memorizing them. DANDELION WINE (1957), again a novel/collection of linked stories, is a series of memories of Bradbury’s Waukegan childhood. Something Wicked This Way Comes is a novel that is also based on Bradbury’s memories. Dandelion Wine is light and optimistic, but Something Wicked is the dark tale of Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade and their encounter with the satanic ringmaster of a traveling carnival. The townsfolk understand too late that, in exchange for granting their wishes, the carnival will steal their souls. In addition to the successes already described, Bradbury wrote for such television programs as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone, not to mention

the Ray Bradbury Theatre, showcasing many of his stories, that ran from 1985 to 1992. Augmenting his distinguished career as both author and screenwriter, Ray Bradbury has served as president of the Science-Fantasy Writers of America and as board member of the Screen Writers Guild of America. In 1985, Bradbury wrote Death Is a Lonely Business, a detective novel. Both Death and A Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities (1990), use writers as central characters; they, too, have murders to solve. Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 has attained classic status. It was originally filmed by Universal in 1966 and adapted as an opera by Georgia Holof and David Mettere, produced in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1988. The actor-director Mel Gibson has produced another cinematic version of the novel. The Martian Chronicles was adapted as a television miniseries in 1980.

NOVELS Dandelion Wine. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1957. Driving Blind. New York: Avon Books, 1997. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine, 1953. A Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities. New York: Knopf, 1990. The Martian Chronicles. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1950. Quicker Than the Eye. New York: Avon Books, 1996. The Smile. Mankato, Minn.: Creative Education, 1991. Something Wicked This Way Comes. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1962.

SOURCES Bloom, Harold, ed. Ray Bradbury. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2000. Bradbury, Ray. Ray Bradbury: An American Icon. Videocassette. Great Northern Productions, 1996. Indick, Benjamin Philip. The Drama of Ray Bradbury. Baltimore, Md.: T-K Graphics, 1977. Johnson, Wayne L. Ray Bradbury. New York: Ungar, 1980. Mogen, David. Ray Bradbury. Boston: Twayne, 1986. Nolan, William F. The Ray Bradbury Companion. Detroit, Mich.: Gale, 1975. Olander, Joseph D., and Martin H. Greenberg, eds. Ray Bradbury. New York: Taplinger, 1980. Reid, Robin Anne. Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000. Slusser, George Edgar. The Bradbury Chronicles. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1977.


Toupence, William F. Ray Bradbury and the Poetics of Reverie. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1998. ———. Ray Bradbury and the Poetics of Reverie: Fantasy, Science Fiction, and the Reader. Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1984.

BRADLEY, MARION ZIMMER (1930–1999) Marion Zimmer Bradley—who wrote under the pseudonym “blah,” among others—was a prolific shortstory writer, literary critic, editor, and founder of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine. Her science fiction and fantasy novels ensured her status as one of the most prominent women writers in these genres, along with Joanna RUSS, Ursula LE GUIN, and Octavia BUTLER. She was among the first to scrutinize gender roles and human relationships, most famously in The MISTS OF AVALON, published in 1984 and winner of a Locus Award that same year. Bradley is best known for her Darkover novels, which chronicle the history of the Darkover planet over several centuries. Marion Zimmer Bradley was born on June 3, 1930, in Albany, New York, to Leslie Raymond Zimmer, a carpenter, and Evelyn Conklin Zimmer, a historian. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Hardin-Simmons College in 1964. She was married to Robert Alden Bradley from 1949 until their divorce in 1963; and to Walter Henry Bree from 1964 until 1990. She began publishing magazine stories in the 1950s, and by 1962 she had begun her career as a novelist: that year she published three novels, including The Planet Savers, the initial novel of the Darkover series. The planet Darkover, lost for centuries until rediscovered by the Terran Empire (Earth), is a place of contradictions: psychic residents vie with innovative technology; all manner of sexual preferences coexist simultaneously; and strong, free Amazons inhabit the planet, where most women live under a heavy patriarchal thumb. Numerous critics point out the impressive dramatic tension created by Bradley’s compelling use of choice and the consequences of individual freedom to decide one’s own fate. In The Shattered Chain (1976), for instance, one of Bradley’s most critically esteemed Darkover novels, Lady Rohana enlists the aid of a tribe of Amazons to rescue a friend who is imprisoned in a community of chained women.

Bradley’s concern with the issue of choice emerges in The MISTS OF AVALON (1983), a best-selling novel that uses the Arthurian legend, a classically male-centered story, but substitutes female perspectives. It features Igraine, mother of Arthur; Vivaine, Igraine’s sister, the high priestess of Avalon; Gwenhwyfar, or Guinevere, wife of Arthur; and Morgaine, half sister of Arthur. In The Firebrand (1988), Bradley again revises a legend, this time the fall of Troy and the story of the Amazon priestess Cassandra. She also wrote numerous novels outside the Darkover series, including mythic fantasies, and lesbian romances, including The Catch Trap (1979), a gay novel set in the 1940s and featuring the family and circus of the Flying Santellis. Trapeze artist Tommy Zane gives up a brilliant career of his own to become the catcher for Mario Santelli, whom he has come to love deeply. Marion Zimmer Bradley continues to attract readers. Although she created numerous plots where women were sexually enslaved and abused, she also made room in her fiction for all types of sexual preference, from the abstainers to the gay, from the promiscuous to the lesbian. She died of a heart attack on September 25, 1999, in Berkeley, California.

SELECTED NOVELS The Bloody Sun. New York: Ace Books, 1964. The Catch Trap. New York: Ballantine, 1979. Darkover Landfall. New York: Daw Books, 1972. Darkover. New York: Daw Books, 1993. The Door through Space. New York: Ace Books, 1961. Endless Voyage. New York: Ace Books, 1975. The Firebrand. New York: Pocket Books, 1988. The Forbidden Tower. New York: Daw Books, 1977; London: G. Prior, 1979. The Heritage of Hastur. New York: Daw Books, 1975. Hunters of the Red Moon. New York: Daw Books, 1973. The Mists of Avalon. New York: Knopf, 1983. The Planet Savers and The Sword of Aldones. New York: Ace Books, 1962. Republished separately as The Planet Savers. London: G. Prior, 1979 and The Sword of Aldones. London: Arrow, 1979. The Shattered Chain. New York: Daw Books, 1976; London: Arrow, 1978. The Spell Sword. New York: Daw Books, 1974. Stormqueen. New York: Daw Books, 1978. The Survivors. With Paul E. Zimmer. New York: Daw Books, 1979.


Sword and Sorceress: An Anthology of Heroic Fantasy. New York: Daw Books, 1984. The Winds of Darkover. New York: Ace Books, 1970. Witchlight. New York: Tor, 1996.

SOURCES Breen, Walter. The Gemini Problem: A Study in Darkover. Baltimore, Md.: T-K Graphics, 1976. Breen, Walter, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. The Darkover Concordance: A Reader’s Guide. Berkeley, Calif.: Pennyfarthing Press, 1979. Leith, Linda. “Marion Zimmer Bradley and Darkover,” Science-Fiction Studies 7 (March 1980): 28–35. Wise, S. The Darkover Dilemma: Problems of the Darkover Series. Baltimore, Md.: T-K Graphics, 1976.

OTHER Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust. Available online. URL: http://www.mzbfm.com/. Accessed June 3, 2005. The Worlds of “Marion Zimmer Bradley.” Formerly available online. URL: http://empirezine.com/spotlight/zimmer/ zimmer-bio.htm. Accessed June 3, 2005.


) Cecilia Brainard, one of the most widely published of contemporary Filipina-American writers, is known especially for her innovative use of Filipino myth and legend. She is particularly interested in historiography, that is the ways in which point of view, narrative form, and methods of representation influence history. In her novel Song of Yvonne, (published in the United States as WHEN THE RAINBOW GODDESS WEPT [1994]), the atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II are mitigated by the comforting legends told by the epic singer Laydan. The narrator relates stories of the gods and goddesses who help oppressed people reach the promised land, the place where they can put down their burdens, and interweaves these stories with the later narratives of exile resulting from the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II (Ty, 31). In addition to essay and short-story collections, Brainard has published her second novel, Magdalena (2002), a tale of three generations of Filipinas. Brainard, who was born on November 21, 1947, grew up in Cebu City, on the central Philippine island of Cebu. After earning a bachelor’s degree in commu-

nications arts from Maryknoll College in Quezon City, she emigrated to the United States and studied film at the University of California at Los Angeles. She married Lauren Brainard, a Peace Corps volunteer whom she met while he served in the Philippines, and they settled in Santa Monica, California. Brainard wrote a number of essays for the Philippine American News and later published them in a collection called Philippine Woman in America. Best known for When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, in which she integrates songs, legends, superstitions, and folktales into 20th-century settings and situations, Brainard also devotes considerable effort to publishing Asian-American writers in the numerous anthologies that she has edited, the most recent of which is Contemporary Fiction by Filipinos in America (1997).

NOVELS Magdalena. Austin, Tex.: Plain View Press, 2002. When the Rainbow Goddess Wept. New York: Dutton, 1994.

SOURCES Hidalgo, Cristina Pantoja. Filipino Woman Writing: Home and Exile in the Autobiographical Narratives of Ten Writers. Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1994. Ty, Eleanor. “Cecilia Manguerra Brainard.” In Asian American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson, 27–33. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000.

OTHER Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. Available online. URL: http:// www.ceciliabrainard.com. Accessed June 3, 2005. Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. Available online. URL: http:// www.palhbooks.com/cbrainardhome.html. Accessed June 3, 2005.




(1933–1984) Two decades after his suicide, Richard Brautigan is viewed by most mainstream critics and readers as a luminary of the hippie movement in its Haight-Ashbury and Woodstock heydays, and many detractors think he had little to say in his later novels and was eclipsed by the more apparent talents of the Beat novelists Jack KEROUAC and William S. BURROUGHS. Brautigan is remembered today chiefly for his avant-garde TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA (1967), a novel that revolutionized postmodern fiction and may be


compared today to works of his contemporary, Ken KESEY, and viewed as the precursor to such younger writers as Tom ROBBINS. Richard Brautigan was born on January 20, 1935, in Tacoma, Washington, to Mary Lula Brautigan; apparently he never met his father, Bernard F. Brautigan, and his mother reportedly also abandoned her children from time to time. While in high school, Brautigan was briefly hospitalized as a paranoid schizophrenic. He moved to San Francisco, lived on the fringes of the Beat poetry crowd, became acquainted with the Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and married Virginia Dionne Adler in 1957. The marriage ended in divorce in 1970. Although published in 1965, A Confederate General from Big Sur, part fantasy, part satire, was actually written after Trout Fishing in America. Confederate General features Jessie, the narrator (who is studying the punctuation of Ecclesiastes), who relates the story of his friend Lee Mellon, a northern California drifter who believes he is the southern general, Robert E. Lee. Trout Fishing in America, initially seen by many readers as a somewhat overly optimistic and innocent romance in the tradition of Henry David Thoreau’s nature book, Walden, was viewed by later critics as a sophisticated and subtle critique of contemporary culture. In fact, Brautigan introduces one of the first of the postmodernist self-aware or self-reflexive narrators. In Watermelon Sugar (1968), Brautigan’s third novel, is another first-person narrated tale of hippie life, this time in a commune in a tiny town called Death. Some critics see “watermelon sugar” as a code phrase for the drug LSD; the drug is responsible for the emotionless reactions of the inhabitants to the human tragedies occurring in their midst, including a mass suicide. Brautigan continued to write into the 1970s, publishing six additional novels. All are characterized by a conscious blending of styles and genres. Perhaps the most interesting of these is The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western (1974), in which two western gunmen are lured by an Indian girl, Magic Child, to kill a monster who lives at Hawkline Manor. The monster is a result of Professor Hawkline’s experiments with chemicals. Other novels in this vein include The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 (1971), Willard and His Bowl-

ing Trophies: A Perverse Mystery (1976), Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel (1976), Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942 (1977), and The Tokyo-Montana Express (1980). Most scholars believe that Brautigan committed suicide in part because of the lack of critical appreciation of his novels. He shot himself sometime in September 1984, in Bolinas, California, and his body was found on October 25 of that year. Although he remains a cult figure, critical reappraisal of his work continues shifting his position in American letters.

NOVELS The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1971. A Confederate General from Big Sur. New York: Grove Press, 1965. Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942. New York: Delacorte, 1977. The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974. In Watermelon Sugar. San Francisco, Calif.: Four Seasons, 1968. Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976. The Tokyo-Montana Express. New York: Delacorte, 1980. Trout Fishing in America. San Francisco, Calif.: Four Seasons, 1967. Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976.

SOURCES Abbott, Keith. Downstream from Trout Fishing in America. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Capra, 1989. Barber, John F. Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography. London: McFarland, 1990. Blakely, Carolyn F. “Narrative Technique in Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar,” College Language Association Journal 35, no. 2 (1991): 150–158. Boyer, Jay. Richard Brautigan. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 1987. Chenetier, Marc. Richard Brautigan. London: Methuen, 1983. Clayton, John. “Richard Brautigan: The Politics of Woodstock,” New American Review 11 (1971): 56–68. Foster, Edward Halsey. Richard Brautigan. Boston: Twayne, 1983. Foster, Jeffrey M. “Richard Brautigan’s Utopia of Detachment,” Connecticut Review 14, no. 1 (1992): 85–91.


Hernlund, Patricia. “Author’s Intent: In Watermelon Sugar,” Critique 16, no. 1 (1974): 5–17. Horvath, Brooke. “Richard Brautigan’s Search for Control over Death,” American Literature 57, no. 3 (1985): 434–455. Kern, Robert. “Williams, Brautigan and the Poetics of Primitivism,” Chicago Review 27, no. 1 (1975): 47–57. Klinkowitz, Jerome. “Frank O’Hara and Richard Brautigan: Personal Poetry.” In Jerome Klinkowitz, The American 1960s: Imaginative Acts in a Decade of Change, 33–46. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1980. Leavitt, Harvey. “The Regained Paradise of Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar,” Critique 16, no. 1 (1974): 18–24. Loewinsohn, Ron. “After the Mimeograph Revolution,” TriQuarterly 18 (Winter 1970): 221–236. Malley, Terence. Richard Brautigan: Writers for the Seventies. New York: Warner Paperback Library, 1972. Schmitz, Neil. “Richard Brautigan and the Modern Pastoral,” Modern Fiction Studies 19 (Spring 1973): 109–125. Stevick, Philip. “Sheherazade Runs Out of Plots, Goes on Talking; the King, Puzzled, Listens: an Essay on New Fiction,” Tri-Quarterly 26 (Winter 1973): 332–362. Stull, William L. “Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America: Notes of a Native Son,” American Literature 56, no. 1 (1984): 68–80. Tanner, Tony. City of Words: American Fiction 1950–1970, 406–415. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. Vanderwerken, David L. “Trout Fishing in America and the American Tradition,” Critique 16, no. 1 (1974): 32–40. Walker, Cheryl. “Richard Brautigan: Youth Fishing in America,” Modern Occasions 2, no. 2 (1972): 308–313.

OTHER Richard Brautigan. Formerly available online. URL: http:// empirezine.com/spotlight/brautigan/brau-intro.htm. Accessed June 3, 2005.

BREAD GIVERS ANZIA YEZIERSKA (1925) According to Louise Levitas Henriksen, YEZIERSKA’s daughter, Doubleday celebrated the publication of Bread Givers in 1925 with an advance printing of 500 numbered copies of the book to be presented to “important people” and a garden party in honor of the author. The novel would be, as Alice Kessler-Harris contends, the most autobiographical of the six novels Yezierska would write between 1920 and 1932 and remains as compelling today as it was in the mid1920s. The novel received critical acclaim and

remained popular until the onset of the Great Depression, after which it eventually went out of print, until Kessler-Harris rediscovered an old copy in a library and petitioned Henriksen to allow her to bring the text to the public’s attention once again in 1973. The story told in Bread Givers addresses one woman’s struggle for education, a subject that finds a contemporary place within the American literary canon. Elizabeth Ammons has argued this point in her groundbreaking Conflicting Stories and posits Yezierska’s novel within a specific tradition of writing by American women who challenged existing definitions of gender roles and demonstrated that the new rights given to women, during the early part of the 20th century, were not only necessary but well deserved. Bread Givers tells the story of Sara Smolinsky, the youngest daughter of a Jewish family that has immigrated to New York from Poland, only to face economic hardship in the ghetto surrounding Hester Street. The family—composed of the patriarch Reb Smolinsky, a Talmudic scholar, his sacrificing wife, and four daughters—lives in a small tenement apartment that allots one entire precious room in its meager space to Sara’s father and his numerous books, the only real belongings the family brought with them from the Old World. Sara struggles to find her own sense of identity, now caught between two cultures—that of the Old World, represented by her father and his traditional, though misogynistic, beliefs, and that of the New World, driven by capitalism. It is the painful conflict between Sara and her father that drives Yezierska’s novel, a conflict that reflects not only a clash in generational belief systems, but growing cultural differences. Sara begins to assimilate and becomes Americanized, while her father desperately clings to fading remnants of the culture he has left behind. Throughout the novel, Sara tries to negotiate a liminal space for herself between these two cultures—a space and resulting definition of self that, at times, causes both cultures to reject her. The novel opens with Sara’s childhood on Hester Street and her family’s financial hardship, caused by her father’s scholarly devotion and his resulting refusal to find work and support his family monetarily. In Poland, her father possessed a traditionally accepted


and highly regarded role in society as a Talmudic scholar, who enabled his research and study of the Torah by marrying a woman from a well-off family. After inheriting and losing his wife’s father’s business, Reb Smolinsky moves his family to America, only to find that the streets he believed to be paved with gold are in actuality not, and he must now work in order to support his family. He finds that masculinity in America is defined through a man’s employment. As a girl, Sara observes and grows to hate what she sees as her father’s tyranny and hypocrisy, revealed through his treatment of her three sisters, Bessie, Mashah, and Favia, either as workers who would give him their earnings or as property to be sold off in marriage. The women in this novel become the bloit gidders (a Yiddish term that means “bread givers,” though part of its meaning is lost in translation) or burden bearers, who must support the father of the family, despite his belief in female inferiority and subservience. Henriksen and, later, Kessler-Harris both emphasize the autobiographical elements of Bread Givers, showing how Yezierska’s difficulty with her own father fueled not only her ambition to escape from poverty, but her nuanced depiction of the educated, traditional Jewish European patriarch. Henriksen reveals that Yezierska visited her father, after the publication of the novel, in an attempt to make peace, to reconcile: “In Bread Givers Anzia had written out her anger at her father and the guilt he forced on her. The writing freed her. She had come to understand and sympathize with him as a zealot like herself, alone in a world of compromisers” (219). Sara, like Yezierska, through her fixed determination, earns the nickname Blut und Eisen, meaning “Blood and Iron,” from her father, since her passion for education supersedes all other needs— emotional, physical, and familial. Yet the very stubbornness that the father criticizes in his daughter is the same iron will he possesses and will enable Sara to accomplish her goals. Unlike Yezierska, who, despite her attempts, never reconciled with her father, Sara does come to see her father as a victim who struggles to maintain his sense of identity in a world that no longer gives his vocation, as a private scholar of the Torah, any value. By bringing Hugo Seelig, a Jewish immigrant from Poland (who has

ascended from humble beginnings to the position of principal of the school at which Sara teaches), home to her father, Sara gives her father a student eager to study the Torah, and thus validates his role as scholar and teacher. When the couple, Sara and Hugo, agree to invite Sara’s father to come and live with them, Sara is now able to allow her father a permanent place in her life, revealing her own maturity and willingness to finally accept her father as a flawed human like herself. As the critic Martin Japtok suggests, Sara shifts from a sense of fierce independence, reminiscent of Emersonian self-reliance, and individualism, to a renewed sense of responsibility connected to her community and family.

SOURCES Henriksen, Louise Levitas. Anzia Yezierska: A Writer’s Life. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1988. Japtok, Martin. “Justifying Individualism: Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers.” In The Immigrant Experience in North American Literature: Carving out a Niche, edited by Katherine B. Payant and Toby Rose, 17–30. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Kessler-Harris, Alice. Introduction to Bread Givers, by Anzia Yezierska. New York: Persea Books, 2003. Konzett, Delia Caparoso. Ethnic Modernisms: Anzia Yezierska, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Rhys, and the Aesthetics of Dislocation. New York: Palgrave, 2002. Schoen, Carol B. Anzia Yezierska. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982. Sharon Kehl Califano


AT TIFFANY’S TRUMAN CAPOTE (1958) In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman CAPOTE uses satire, wit, and irony, underscored by his inimitable lyric language, to fashion this chic and enigmatic novella. His unnamed first-person narrator, a man with an outsider, retrospective tone, resembles the engineer narrator in Edith WHARTON’s ETHAN FROME or Nick Carraway in F. Scott FITZGERALD’s The GREAT GATSBY. He tells the story of Holly Golightly and her mysterious life, and her possible ties to the Mafia. She is an appealingly honest woman who makes her living as an escort and companion to wealthy men, a woman whose grit, independence, and talent win her the admiration of nearly all readers. Because of her unassailable innocence, she conjures up a female Jay Gatsby who also requires a


good deal of money to live as she wants to live in New York City. Unlike Gatsby, however, she is fleeing a dull past with a dull husband and is essentially homeless. Most critics agree that the narrator reflects Capote as he was during his New York brownstone days. He ferrets out information about Holly and passes it along to the reader as he wrestles with his own feelings about Holly’s conduct. Capote also presents a circle of concerned acquaintances, including Joe Bell, the bartender; Madame Sapphia Spanella, an operatic singer as unconventional as Holly; O. J. Berman, the Hollywood agent; Jose Ybarra-Jaegar, the Argentine diplomat; and Sally Tomato, the mafioso (despite his feminine-sounding first name) whom Holly visits at Sing Sing and from whom she receives coded messages. Just as Tennessee WILLIAMS maintained that he was actually Blanche Dubois in his play A Streetcar Named Desire (encoded messages are not unusual in Capote’s work), Capote’s portrait may be hidden in the charming, unconventional, and enigmatic Holly. Her real name, after all, is Lulamae, a likely reference to Capote’s friend, the bisexual Carson (Lulu) McCULLERS. More conventional interpretations include the focus on Holly as a “celebration of innocence” (Reed, 91) and the novella as a Künstlerroman, the story of a writer, detailing the narrator’s progress. Breakfast at Tiffany’s was made into a popular feature film in 1961 starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly and George Peppard as the narrator. In these less optimistic times, readers may identify more closely with the Holly Golightly who jumps bail at novel’s end and heads for Brazil: “Home is where you feel at home,” she tells the narrator. “I’m still looking” (102).

SOURCES Capote, Truman. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. New York: Vintage International, 1993. Nance, William L. The Worlds of Truman Capote. New York: Stein and Day, 1970. Reed, Kenneth T. Truman Capote. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981.

BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY, THE THORNTON WILDER (1927) An immediate national and international best-seller that was also well received by critics, The Bridge of San Luis Rey earned Thornton

WILDER his first Pulitzer Prize. (He is still the only writer to win Pulitzer Prizes in both fiction and drama.) That Wilder’s second novel has remained in print for more than 75 years attests to its timelessness, as does its selection by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century (Lewis, 4), ranking 37th, which was ahead of such highly regarded novels as The Sun Also Rises, Women in Love, Light in August, The Age of Innocence, Heart of Darkness, Main Street, and Finnegans Wake. Once a standard on high school English class reading lists, The Bridge of San Luis Rey was filmed in 1929 and again in 1944; a new film adaptation starring Robert DeNiro, Kathy Bates, and Harvey Keitel was released in 2005. Scholars attribute the popularity of Wilder’s most famous novel to its accessibility as it deals with philosophical questions about the meaning of life that are asked in every culture in the past, the present, and the future. The Bridge of San Luis Rey both is and is not a novel of its time. It contrasts with such realistic novels set in the contemporary world as The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises, and Main Street; however, its form (including nonlinear, nonchronological structure, multiple interrelated protagonists) resembles other modernist fiction such as Winesburg, Ohio, The Sound and the Fury, and Nightwood (Christensen, 203). A reflexivity bordering on metafiction characterizes the narrative of Bridge—which is more an allegory of reading (natural phenomena, lives, history, letters, and literature) than an Aristotelian causal plot, and makes this short novel of the 1920s of interest to fans and scholars of postmodern fiction. Three sections, each of which focuses on one principal and other secondary characters, framed by a prologue and epilogue, respectively entitled “Perhaps an Accident” and “Perhaps an Intention,” compose The Bridge of San Luis Rey. In the philosophical and highly allusive frame device an anonymous first-person narrator relates the rather quixotic life of Brother Juniper, a Franciscan priest traveling and ministering in Peru during the 18th century. The priest regards the deaths of five people who were on an old rope bridge when it broke as an opportunity to prove his belief in Providence: that “either we live by accident and die by accident or we live by plan and die by plan.” Although


Wilder has the narrator affect a skepticism toward Brother Juniper’s attempt to “justify the ways of God to man,” the story of the five victims’ lives dramatizes that this “act of God” was simultaneously punishment for the wicked, reward for the good, and mercy for the suffering (Kuner, 76). The next three sections of the novel are parables of profound love, which some scholars attribute to the influence of Marcel Proust on Wilder (Castronovo, 48–49). In “Part Two, The Marquesa de Montemayor,” Wilder explores the emotional complexity of a familiar character type: the mother whose love for her child so consumes her that she smothers her offspring, who must flee to another place to be free. Furthermore, in modeling the marquesa after French letter-writer Madame de Sevigné, Wilder shows how unrequited love, even of a mother toward her daughter, can inspire great literary expressions of the human heart, as we are offered excerpts of what the narrator tells us are now considered great writing in the Spanish language studied by schoolboys. Through the narration and letters we see that ultimately the marquesa transcends her selfish, oppressive love of her daughter, but because it occurs the night before she takes the famous bridge on the day it breaks, she is unable to live out her new determination to live and love rightly. This section also relates the story of a young girl named Pepita, the marquesa’s servant sent to her from the convent in Lima. Pepita too has a consuming love (Burbank, 49), but it is for the abbess who took her in and began grooming her to succeed the abbess when she is too old to run the orphanage and other charitable operations based at the convent. Pepita suffers from her separation from the abbess and the hardship of serving the marquesa; she also reaches a determination on how to live from then forward, and thus is about to “begin a new life,” as are all five victims of the fall of the bridge (Christensen, 198), but she does not survive. “Part Three, Esteban” tells the story of the eponymous young man and his twin brother, Manuel. Growing up in the convent orphanage, Esteban and Manuel are so close emotionally that nothing can come between them except death and perhaps romantic love. When Manuel falls in love for the first time, Esteban is prepared to make the sacrifice of leaving his

brother so he can be happy with Camila Perichole, the actress. However, Manuel trumps this act of fraternal love when, we are told, “in one unhesitating stroke of the will, he removed the Perichole from his heart.” The issue becomes moot when Manuel accidentally tears open his leg and the wound becomes infected, and he dies. Esteban is so devastated by the loss of his twin that he unsuccessfully attempts suicide only to perish, mercifully (Stresau, 23), when the bridge falls. In “Part Four, Uncle Pio,” Wilder tells the tale of a Svengali and his protégé, Camila Perichole. Uncle Pio is an unsavory character except that he has a great passion for the golden age of Spanish theater; when he finds a young peasant girl singing in a café in Peru, he decides to mold her into the greatest actress of his age and succeeds. However, Camila develops other aspirations and passions, and eventually is alienated from him. Uncle Pio’s love for Camila is not romantic or sexual, but he nonetheless suffers from this separation until he finds perhaps what will be an acceptable substitute: he persuades Camila to allow him to take her epileptic son Don Jaime to teach him the classics of Spanish literature and how to become a man. They both die when the bridge falls, but this engenders a spiritual transformation in Camila. For her to have gone from café singer, to honored actress, to member of the social cabal in Lima, to comforter of the poor and sick (the abbess’s successor) attests to the progress of grace in her life. The final section of the novel not only finishes the story of Brother Juniper, who is burnt at the stake for heresy, and closes out the philosophical and theological themes associated with the accident of the bridge; it also brings to resolution the story of a character who appears in the preceding sections: Madre Maria del Pilar, or the abbess. Like the other characters, she has an epiphany about love and life after great suffering (Izzo, 125), but unlike them she is allowed to continue living with this new knowledge, and it is her realization that closes the novel: “But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” From the microcosm of the five victims of


the bridge and other characters, to the macrocosm of the final sentence, we see the technique and sentiment Thornton Wilder will employ throughout his career in such plays as “Our Town” (1938) and “The Skin of Our Teeth” (1942), and in such novels as The Eighth Day (1967) and Theophilus North (1973). More fable than novel, perhaps, The Bridge of San Luis Rey transcends the mundane as it reaches for the universal story and the classic ideal of truth.

SOURCES Blank, Martin. Critical Essays on Thornton Wilder. New York: G. K. Hall, 1996. Burbank, Rex. Thornton Wilder. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1978. Castronovo, David. Thornton Wilder. New York: F. Ungar, 1986. Christensen, Peter G. “Human Relatedness and Narrative Techniques in the Early Novels of Thornton Wilder and Glenway Wescott.” In Thornton Wilder: New Essays, edited by Martin Blank, Dalma Hunyadi Brunauer, and David Garrett Izzo, 185–205. West Cornwall, Conn.: Locust Hill Press, 1999. Izzo, David Garrett. “Thornton Wilder and the Perennial Philosophy: A Legacy of Goodness as Represented by His Five Affirmations First Enunciated in the Early Plays of The Angel That Troubled the Waters.” In Thornton Wilder: New Essays, edited by Martin Blank, Dalma Hunyadi Brunauer, and David Garrett Izzo, 105–125. West Cornwall, Conn.: Locust Hill Press, 1999. Kuner, Mildred. Thornton Wilder: The Bright and the Dark. New York: Crowell, 1972. Lewis, Paul. “Ulysses at Top As Panel Picks 100 Best Novels,” New York Times, 20 July 1998, pp. E-1, E-4. Stresau, Hermann. Thornton Wilder. Translated by Frieda Schutze. New York: F. Ungar, 1971. Wilder, Thornton. The Bridge of San Luis Rey. New York: Perennial Classics, HarperCollins, 2003. Lincoln Konkle

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY JAY MCINERNEY (1984) Along with Tama JANOWITZ’s Slaves of New York and Bret Easton Ellis’s Less than Zero, Jay MCINfirst novel, Bright Lights, Big City, explores and details the frenetic club life and drug scene of mid1980s New York. Bright Lights, Big City follows the actions of an unnamed young man addressed only as ERNEY’s

“you” by the narrator, as in the opening lines of the novel: “You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning.” Whether the effect is taken as an address to the reader understood as the unnamed “you” or if it is a conversational use of self-reflexivity, the novel inaugurated a short-lived vogue of second-person present-tense narration, especially in fiction of the New Yorker. The main character of the novel is a 24-year-old frustrated writer who works as a fact checker for a culturally esteemed New York literary magazine. Coping with both the death of his mother and his recent divorce from a successful model who, like the narrator, is originally from the Midwest, the main character succumbs to the club life and cocaine scene. The constant nightlife begins to take a toll on his work, but he is spurred on by his friend, an up-and-coming ad executive, Tad Allagash. The novel follows the main character’s descent and final rebirth and is paralleled by the running image of a “coma baby” story seen in the New York Post headlines. The denouement of the story involves the main character’s acceptance of his mother’s death and realization that he must take charge of his life, instead of being run by friends such as Allagash or by drugs. The novel concludes as the main character, after another night spent in the clubs, trades his symbolic Ray-Ban sunglasses—which protect him from the light of day—for a loaf of fresh bread, which he realizes he will have to relearn to eat. Often compared to J. D. SALINGER’s The Catcher in the Rye and F. Scott FITZGERALD’s The Great Gatsby, Bright Lights, Big City revels in cynical, deadpan humor and references to popular culture. The novel has been seen as a celebration of the club and drug scene and as a roman à clef to New York in the 1980s. McInerney, however, has argued that the novel is “a modest critique of an age in which an actor is the President, in which fashion models are asked for their opinions, in which getting into a nightclub is seen as a significant human achievement.” One of the first and the most successful of Vintage Contemporaries paperback novels, Bright Lights, Big City poses questions of artistic legitimacy, symbolized by the difference between the high-culture magazine


the narrator works for and the mass cultural Post that he surreptitiously reads.

SOURCES Edwards, Thomas R. “Babylon Re-Revisited,” New York Review of Books (May 23, 1996): 28–29. Faye, Jefferson. “Cultural/Familial Estrangement: Self-Exile and Self-Destruction in Jay McInerney’s Novels.” In The Literature of Emigration and Exile, edited by James Whitlark and Wendell Aycock, 115–130. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1992. Girard, Stephanie. “ ‘Standing at the Corner of Walk and Don’t Walk’: Vintage Contemporaries, Bright Lights, Big City, and the Problems of Betweenness,” American Literature 68 (1996): 161–185. McInerney, Jay. Bright Lights, Big City. New York: Vintage, 1984. Noe, Marcia. “(Mis)reading the Region: Midwestern Innocence in the Fiction of Jay McInerney,” Midamerica: the Yearbook of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature 25 (1998): 162–174. Eric Leuschner

BRODKEY, HAROLD (ROY) (1930–1996) Harold Brodkey, widely esteemed for his short stories, many of which were published in the New Yorker, also wrote two novels, The Runaway Soul (1991) and Profane Friendship (1994). His lyrically detailed, realistic evocations of childhood initiation experiences remains, for many readers, unparalleled in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Harold Brodkey was born Aaron Roy Weintraub on October 25, 1930, in Alton, Illinois, and was soon adopted by Joseph and Doris Brodkey. He was educated at Harvard University, graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in 1952. Brodkey was married twice: to Joanna Brown, from 1952 to 1962, and to Ellen Schwamm, a novelist, in 1980. After a brief career in teaching, Brodkey published First Love and Other Sorrows, a story collection, in 1986. His first novel, The Runaway Soul, is a lengthy autobiographical story about Wiley Silenowicz, the Brodkey protagonist. Commenting on the intriguing way Brodkey fashions disparate elements into a coherent whole, reviewer Robert M. Adams says that the novel “can also be taken as a medley of Balkanized writings, a set of lectures, confessions, explorations, and masquerades, various as

a good minestrone” (Adams, 3). Profane Friendship features narrator Niles O’Hara, an American novelist, and Omni, an Italian actor who engage in an intense love affair. As Irving Malin points out, part of the fascination of the novel lies in the reader’s suspicion, never clarified, that Niles is actually an unreliable narrator. After learning that he had contracted AIDS, Brodkey wrote This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death (1996), a memoir praised equally for its art and its personal honesty. Brodkey died of complications from AIDS on January 26, 1996, in Manhattan, New York City. Many scholars who have been studying his work suggest that he deserves a more prominent place in the canon of contemporary American writers.

NOVELS Profane Friendship. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1994. The Runaway Soul. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1991.

SOURCES Adams, Robert M. “A Good Minestrone,” New York Review of Books 38, no. 19 (November 21, 1991): 3. Birkerts, Sven. “Infinity of Inwardness,” Nation 237 (October 17, 1988): 348–351. Brodkey, Harold. This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death. New York: Henry Holt, 1996. Linville, James. “Harold Brodkey: The Art of Fiction,” Paris Review 121 (1991): 51–91. Malin, Irving. Review of Profane Friendship, Review of Contemporary Fiction 14, no. 2 (Summer 1994): 201. Woodward, Richard B. “Brodkey,” Mirabella (October 1991): 90–100.

BROMFIELD, LOUIS (1896–1956) Louis Bromfield, who lived in Paris from 1925–38, wrote 19 novels, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Early Autumn (1926), his third novel. He also wrote five collections of short stories, a dozen Hollywood screenplays, three plays, and, from Malabar Farm in Pleasant Valley, Ohio, 10 nonfiction works, seven of them about subsistence agriculture and soil conservation. Because he based his novels on his beliefs in Jeffersonian democracy and in an agriculturally based America, he failed to adapt the innovative techniques and urban themes advocated by his modernist contemporaries; this choice, as well as Bromfield’s widespread popularity and his steadfast refusal to mix politics in his writing, caused his fall from critical favor. Ironically, today he is


perhaps better known for his nature writing than for his fiction. Louis Brumfield (Bromfield after the printing error on the title page of his first novel) was born on December 17, 1896, in Mansfield, Ohio, to Charles Brumfield, a farmer, and Annette Coulter Brumfield. (His strong-willed mother provided the model for many of his later female characters.) After a year studying agriculture at Cornell University, Brumfield transferred to Columbia University to study journalism, but instead volunteered for the American ambulance corps from 1917 to 1919. Brumfield participated in seven major battles and received the Croix de Guerre. Columbia University awarded him an honorary war degree in 1920. He married Mary Appleton Wood in 1921 and, a year before the family’s move to France, Bromfield published his first novel, The Green Bay Tree (1924), the first of four (he had projected six) novels in his Escape series. All four novels in the series center on strong women protagonists who “escape” dull farms and monotonous existences, only to find that they eventually need to reescape from their urban and industrial havens. In The Green Bay Tree, Lily Shane leaves a stultifying existence in her Midwest town by moving to Paris, only to have her new life shattered by the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. The novel was adapted for the stage as The House of Women in New York in 1927 and in London in 1928. Ellen Tolliver, Lily’s young cousin who is featured in Possession (1925), escapes her small town to become an internationally famous pianist. Unfortunately, Ellen pays a high price for her success: her allegiance to her music precludes forming any personal relationships. In Early Autumn (1926), Bromfield focuses on the East Coast relatives of the earlier characters: Olivia Pentland marries into an old New England aristocratic family to escape her nouveau-riche status, only to be imprisoned by wealth and scandalous family secrets. A Good Woman (1927), completes the series: Emma Downes, the ironic source of the title, seeks to glorify herself in the eyes of the town through her role as a virtuous woman. In so doing, she is so domineering that she alienates both her husband and her son Philip, the former disappears and she forces Philip into African missionary work and mar-

riage to a missionary’s daughter. Both die, and, heedless of the family she has destroyed, Emma marries a congressman. Bromfield continued to write novels for another two decades. His own personal favorite was The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg (1928), a series of interlinked stories about witnesses to a miracle in post–World War I Italy. Twenty-Four Hours (1930) recounts the events at a New York dinner party and the conflicting values between his materialistic characters and those women guests who feel a kinship with nature. Most critics consider The Farm (1933) and The Rains Came: A Novel of Modern India (1937) among Bromfield’s best novels. The Farm depicts the coming-of-age of a young man who grew up on a farm and reaches maturity just as urban, materialistic values begin to destroy agrarian ones. The Rains Came was very popular, featuring Aunt Phoebe, an American expatriate living in India who watches and records the action: Ransome, a European, represents the destructive colonial presence, and the maharajah represents India’s awakening nationalism and spirit of the future. It was adapted into a featurelength film in 1939. Although Bromfield was, along with his neighbor and fellow author Edith WHARTON, awarded the Legion d’Honneur from the French government, he decided to return to the United States as World War II loomed. He bought Malabar Farm in Ohio and moved gradually from fiction to nonfiction books about the values of agrarian life. Bromfield received the Audubon medal in 1952, for leadership in conservation farming, writing, and lecturing; Malabar Farm is now a state park in central Ohio. He died on the farm on March 18, 1956. Scholar David D. Anderson points out that he deserves to be read more widely; his remarkable gifts at characterization, storytelling, and lyrical style “are not common abilities in any literary age” (Anderson, 180).

NOVELS Colorado. New York and London: Harper, 1947. Early Autumn. New York: Stokes, 1926. The Farm. New York and London: Harper, 1933. A Good Woman. New York: Stokes, 1927. The Green Bay Tree. New York: Stokes, 1924. It Had to Happen. London: Cassell, 1936. Kenny. New York and London: Harper, 1947.


The Man Who Had Everything. New York and London: Harper, 1935. A Modern Hero. New York: Stokes, 1932. Mr. Smith. New York: Harper, 1951. Mrs. Parkington. New York and London: Harper, 1943. Night in Bombay. New York and London: Harper, 1940. Possession. New York: Stokes, 1925; republished as Lilli Barr. London: Unwin, 1926. The Rains Came: A Novel of Modern India. New York and London: Harper, 1937. The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg. New York: Stokes, 1928. Twenty-Four Hours. New York: Stokes, 1930. Until the Day Break. New York and London: Harper, 1942. What Became of Anna Bolton. New York and London: Harper, 1944. The Wild Country. New York: Harper, 1948. Wild Is the River. New York and London: Harper, 1941.

SOURCES Anderson, David D. Louis Bromfield. New York: Twayne. 1964. Brown, Morrison. Louis Bromfield and His Books. Fair Lawn, N.J.: Essential Books, 1957. Geld, Ellen Bromfield. The Heritage: A Daughter’s Memories of Louis Bromfield. New York: Harper 1962. Hughes, James M. Louis Bromfield, Ohio and Self-Discovery. Columbus: State Library of Ohio 1979. Little, Charles E., ed. Louis Bromfield at Malabar: Writings on Farming and Country Life. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988. ———. Malabar Farm. New York and London: Harper, 1948.


GWENDOLYN (1917–2000)

Although primarily known as one of the premier poets of the 20th century—and the first black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, for the collection Annie Allen, in 1950—Gwendolyn Brooks is also highly regarded for her only novel, MAUD MARTHA (1953). In this novel she uses her lyrical, captivating poetic technique to create a convincing portrait of a strong woman who learns to respect herself. Gwendolyn Brooks, the descendent of an escaped slave, was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1917, to David Anderson Brooks and Keziah Corinne Wims Brooks but was reared in Chicago. After receiving an associate’s degree from Wilson Junior College in 1936, she married

Henry Lowington Blakely II in 1939, and published her first book, A Street in Bronzeville, a poetry collection, in 1945. Long before such works as Toni MORRISON’s THE BLUEST EYE, Brooks’s Maud Martha demonstrated the differences between black and white concepts of beauty, challenged the dominant white model, and celebrated the strength and dignity that distinguished Maud Martha. Brooks’s work has always been concerned with the black urban poor, with the everyday struggles of those she called “plain black folks,” but most critics point out that, after the Civil Rights movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, her work became more explicitly political. Brooks was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988. The recipient of scores of awards and honorary degrees, Gwendolyn Brooks, at age 68, was also the first African American to serve as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. She promoted the work of many writers and established the Illinois Poet Laureate Awards. Gwendolyn Brooks died of cancer, on December 3, 2000, in Chicago. Her papers are housed at Western Illinois University’s Gwendolyn Brooks Center for African-American Literature.

NOVEL Maud Martha. New York: Harper, 1953.

SOURCES Bloom, Harold, ed. Gwendolyn Brooks. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000. Evans, Mari, ed. Black Women Writers (1950–1980): A Critical Evaluation. New York: Anchor/Doubleday, 1984. Kent, George. Gwendolyn Brooks: A Life. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1988. Mootry, Maria K., and Gary Smith, eds. A Life Distilled: Gwendolyn Brooks: Her Poetry and Fiction. Carbondale: University of Illinois Press, 1987. Shaw, Harry F. Gwendolyn Brooks. Boston: Twayne, 1980. Wright, Stephen Caldwell, ed. On Gwendolyn Brooks: Reliant Contemplation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.




(1771–1810) A novelist, journalist, and editor, Charles Brockden Brown is considered the first professional American novelist. Of his seven published novels, four are still considered significant: WIELAND


(1798), a gothic tale of murder and insanity; ORMOND (1799), a gothically inspired tale of seduction; Arthur Mervyn (1799), a picaresque bildungsroman; and Edgar Huntly (1799), a nightmarish portrait of a sleepwalker. Brown is clearly a precursor of Edgar Allen POE and Nathaniel HAWTHORNE, both of whom admired his ability to portray the private anguish of an obsessed individual, and the darker side of the human psyche in general. Among more modern practitioners of the gothic, who describe the terrors of a mind in conflict with itself, contemporary critics name William FAULKNER and Henry JAMES (Ringe, 2). One is tempted to add to these writers the novelist Stephen KING. Charles Brockden Brown was born on January 17, 1771, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Elijah Brown, a prosperous Quaker merchant, and Mary Armitt Brown. Rebelling against the study of law, he joined literary clubs first in Philadelphia and then in New York, where he found encouragement, and published Wieland when he was 27 years old. The tale of Theodore Wieland, a melancholy young man, mixes religious delusion and murder: Wieland believes he hears God telling him to murder his wife and children. The novel pits Wieland’s sister Clara, the voice of reason, against that of his friend Carwin, the intriguing but dangerous artist whose ventriloquism leads Wieland to his tragedy and demise. The title character of Ormond, the would-be seducer of Constantia Dudley, is defeated by her intelligence and education. Edgar Huntly, the tormented protagonist of Edgar Huntly, slouches through virgin American forests, mountains, caves, and cliffs. His encounters with Native Americans pave the way for James Fenimore COOPER and his Leatherstocking Tales, particularly The LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Arthur Mervyn is particularly notable for its depiction of the yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia. Brown also wrote Alcuin (1798), which advocates for political, educational, and sexual freedom for women. Clara Howard (1801) and Jane Talbot (1801) rely on sentimentalism. Yet one critic, Paul Witherington, finds them among his most accomplished novels. Brown is, according to scholar Donald A. Ringe, artistic at his best, and, even at his worst, a significant contributor to the way we interpret subsequent developments in American literature (Ringe, 10). Brown’s manuscripts are housed at the University of Texas at Austin, the Uni-

versity of Virginia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and Bowdoin College.

NOVELS Alcuin: A Dialogue. New York: Printed by T. & J. Swords, 1798. Arthur Mervyn; Or, Memoirs of the Year 1793, part 1. Philadelphia: H. Maxwell, 1799; part 2. New York: George F. Hopkins, 1800. Clara Howard; In a Series of Letters. Philadelphia: H. Maxwell & Asbury Dickins, 1801; republished as Philip Stanley; Or, the Enthusiasm of Love . . . 2 vols. London, 1807. Edgar Huntly; Or Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker, 3 vols. Philadelphia: H. Maxwell, 1799. Jane Talbot, A Novel. Philadelphia: John Bioren & John Conrad, M. & J. Conrad in Baltimore, Md. and Rapin, Conrad in Washington City, 1801. Ormond; Or the Secret Witness. New York: G. Forman for H. Caritat, 1799. Wieland; Or the Transformation. An American Tale. New York: T. & J. Swords for H. Caritat, 1798.

SOURCES Allen, Paul. The Life of Charles Brockden Brown: A Facsimile Reproduction. Edited by Charles E. Bennett. New York: Delmar, Scholar’s Facsimiles and Reprints, 1975. Also published as The Late Charles Brockden Brown. Edited by Robert E. Hemenway and Joseph Katz. Columbia, S.C.: Faust, 1976. Axelrod, Alan. Charles Brockden Brown. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983. Bell, Michael Davitt. “ ‘The Double-Tongued Deceiver’: Sincerity and Duplicity in the Novels of Charles Brockden Brown,” Early American Literature 9 (Fall 1974): 143–163. Clark, David Lee. Charles Brockden Brown, Pioneer Voice of America. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1952. Cleman, John. “Ambiguous Evil: A Study of Villains and Heroes in Charles Brockden Brown’s Major Novels,” Early American Literature 10 (Fall 1975): 190–210. Grabo, Norman S. The Coincidental Art of Charles Brockden Brown. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981. Hinds, Elizabeth Jane Wall. Private Property: Charles Brockden Brown’s Gendered Economics of Virtue. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1997. Kimball, Arthur G. Rational Fictions: A Study of Charles Brockden Brown. McMinnville, Oreg.: Linfield Research Institute, 1968. Parker, Patricia. Charles Brockden Brown: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980.


Ringe, Donald A. Charles Brockden Brown. Rev. ed. New York: Twayne, 1991. Rosenthal, Bernard, ed. Critical Essays on Charles Brockden Brown. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981. Watts, Steven. The Romance of Real Life: Charles Brockden Brown and the Origins of American Culture. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994. Wiley, Lulu Rumsey. The Sources and Influence of the Novels of Charles Brockden Brown. New York: Vantage Press, 1950. Witherington, Paul. “Benevolence and the ‘Utmost Stretch’: Charles Brockden Brown’s Narrative Dilemma,” Criticism 14 (Spring 1972): 175–191. ———. “Brockden Brown’s Other Novels: Clara Howard and Jane Talbot,” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 29 (December 1974): 257–272.

OTHER License for the World Wide School’s Wieland; Or The Transformation. Available online. URL: http://www. worldwideschool.org/library/books/lit/socialcommentary/ WielandOrtheTransformation/legalese.html. Accessed June 5, 2005. UVa Library: Early American Fiction Collection: Charles Brockden Brown. Restricted availability online. URL: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/eaf/authors/cbb.html. Accessed June 5, 2005.

BROWN, DAN (1964– ) Erstwhile schoolteacher turned blockbuster writer, Dan Brown, author of techno-thrillers frequently compared to those of Tom CLANCY and Michael CRICHTON, made publishing headlines with his fourth novel, The Da Vinci Code (2003); it rose to the top of most major newspaper’s best-seller lists and, within a year and a half, had more than 7.5 million copies in print. As National Security Institute Managing Director Don Ulsch notes, “what Clancy has written so convincingly about the CIA and the FBI, Brown has [done so] masterfully for the National Security Agency” (Ulsch). Dan Brown was born on June 22, 1964, in Exeter, New Hampshire, to a math professor and a musician specializing in sacred music. He was educated at Amherst College, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1986. His first novel, Digital Fortress (1998), features Susan Fletcher, head cryptographer of the NSA, in swift-paced scenes alternating between Washington, D.C., and Seville, Spain. His third, Deception Point

(2001), also features a brainy woman, this time a NASA intelligence analyst. Both the second and fourth novels, Angels and Demons (2000) and The Da Vinci Code, feature the Harvard art history, iconography, and religion professor Robert Langdon who enjoys the challenge of such phenomena as the big bang theory, the order of Knights Templar, and theories about the Holy Grail. In Angels and Demons, Langdon becomes involved with the ancient secret cult called the Illuminati who seek vengeance against the Vatican because of its ill treatment of such scientists as Galileo and Copernicus. In The Da Vinci Code, Sophie Neveu, whom New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin calls “a chip off the author’s earlier prototype” (Maslin), joins up with Langdon to follow the clues supposedly planted by Leonardo Da Vinci. The astonishing results involve murder, the Mona Lisa, the Madonna of the Rocks, and Da Vinci’s famous painting, The Last Supper. Readers and critics alike continue to praise Brown for his ability to educate and entertain. He is helped in his research by his wife Blythe, an art historian and painter. They travel frequently. Brown is reportedly working on the sequel to The Da Vinci Code, the film version of which is soon to be released by Columbia Pictures. In 2005 The Da Vinci Code was named Britain’s Book of the Year.

NOVELS Angels and Demons. New York: Pocket Books, 2000. The Da Vinci Code. New York: Doubleday, 2003. Deception Point. New York: Pocket Books, 2001. Digital Fortress. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

SOURCES Ayers, Jeff. Review of Deception Point, Library Journal 126, no. 16 (October 1, 2001): 139. Maryles, Daisy. “From Angels to Demons,” Publishers Weekly 251, no. 2 (January 12, 2004): 17. Paumgarten, Nick. “Acknowledged.” The New Yorker, 5 May 2003, p. 36. Steinberg, Sybil. Review of Digital Fortress, Publishers Weekly 244, no. 52 (December 22, 1997): 39–40.

OTHER Ain, Marissa. “Hidden in Plain Sight.” Yale Review of Books. Available online. URL: http://www.yalereviewofbooks.com/ archive/summer03/review09.shtml.htm. Accessed June 5, 2005.


Court, Ayesha. Review of The Da Vinci Code. USA Today Online. (May 8, 2003). Available online. URL: http:// www.usatoday.htm/. Accessed June 15, 2005. Dan Brown Web site. Available online. URL: http://www. danbrown.com/. Accessed June 5, 2005. Maryles, Daisy. “Veni, Vidi, DaVinci.” Publisher’s Weekly, (March 31, 2003). Available online. URL: http://www.danbrown. com/media/venivididavinci.htm. Accessed June 5, 2005. Maslin, Janet. Review of The Da Vinci Code, International Herald Tribune, March 20, 2003. Available online. URL: http://www.highbeam.com/library/drc3.asp?DOCID=1P1: 72708829. Accessed August 27, 2005. ———. “Spinning a Thriller From the Louvre.” Available online. URL: http://www.danbrown.com/novels/davinci_ code/nytimes.html. Accessed June 5, 2005. Morris, Edward. “Explosive New Thriller Explores Secrets of the Church.” Bookpage. Available online. URL: http://www. bookpage.com/6304bp/dan_brown.html (April 2003): 11. Accessed August 22, 2005. Ulsch, Don. Review of Digital Fortress. Available online. URL: http://www.danbrown.com/novels/digital_fortress/ reviews.html. Accessed August 22, 2005. White, Claire E. Interview with Dan Brown. Writers Write. Atlantic Unbound. Available online. URL: http://www. writerswrite.com/journal/may98/brown.htm. (May 1998). Accessed August 22, 2005.

BROWN, RITA MAE (1944– ) Novelist, poet, feminist activist, screenwriter, and essayist, Rita Mae Brown came into prominence with her first novel, RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE (1973), featuring a lesbian protagonist with a sense of humor. Although she has a reputation as a spokesperson for lesbians and Rubyfruit Jungle has become a staple, not just of gay and lesbian literature courses, but also of women’s studies and contemporary American literature courses, Brown has strongly resisted the label of “lesbian writer.” In addition to fiction set in various historical eras, from the present to the Great Depression to the Civil War and the aftermath of the War of 1812, Brown has devoted the last decade to writing mystery novels, some “coauthored” with her cat, Sneaky Pie. She has also authored or coauthored eight screenplays, including Rubyfruit Jungle, based on her novel. Rita Mae Brown was born on November 28, 1944, in Hanover, Pennsylvania, to unmarried parents who gave her up for adoption. Brown was adopted by

Ralph Brown, a butcher, and Julia Buckingham Brown, a bakery employee and mill worker. At age 11 Brown moved with the family to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; she was educated at the University of Florida and New York University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, and the New York School of Visual Arts, where she received a cinematography certificate, both in 1968. In 1973, the year Rubyfruit Jungle was published, Brown received her doctorate from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Rubyfruit Jungle has been called a contemporary Huckleberry Finn, a female picaresque, and a lesbian bildungsroman featuring tomboy protagonist Dorothy Bolt. The semiautobiographical novel depicts the talented and intelligent Molly as she surmounts multiple barriers in her search for self-reliance and success. Brown’s second novel, In Her Day (1976), set in New York, chronicles the love affair between art professor Carole Hanratty and a radical feminist named Ilse. Brown followed with the more successful Six of One (1978), as two generations of women in Runnymede, Pennsylvania, exhibit strengths that help them survive World War I and the Great Depression. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT (1982), set in Montgomery, Alabama, depicts issues of incest and mixed race relationships through Banana Mae Parker and Blue Rhonda Latrec, two prostitutes, and Hortensia Reedmuller Banastre and Hercules Jinks. Sudden Death (1983) depicts corruption on the tennis courts, in this case brought on by the attempts to hide the lesbianism of Carmen Semana, a young Argentine tennis star. Miscegenation emerges again in Brown’s Civil War novel, High Hearts (1986), when a young bride, Geneva Chatfield, disguises herself as a man to follow her husband to the battlefield. The novel is a tribute to the many women who played a role in the Civil War. In Bingo (1988), Brown returns to Runnymede; Nickle, her lesbian protagonist, struggles to save the town newspaper but is distracted by her mother and her aunt, both in their 90s, who try to attract the attention of eligible bachelor Ed Tutweiler Walters. With Wish You Were Here (1990), Brown ventured into the world of the mystery novel and introduced the feline character Mrs. Murphy and Brown’s own cat and “coauthor” Sneaky Pie. These mysteries have brought Brown an even


greater readership. In her 1993 novel VENUS ENVY, Brown revisits the strong lesbian character, this time in art dealer Mary Armstrong Frazier who, when diagnosed with a terminal disease, writes letters admitting her lesbianism, only to learn that she is not dying after all. Dolley: A Novel of Dolley Madison in Love and War (1994) is another historical novel, set in 1814, and Riding Shotgun (1996) depicts protagonist Pryor “Cig” Blackwood as she timetravels back to colonial Virginia. Rita Mae Brown continues to write about strong, courageous women whose intelligence and sense of humor helps them succeed even when the odds are against them.

NOVELS Bingo. New York: Bantam, 1988. Catch as Cat Can. New York: Bantam, 2002. Dolley: A Novel of Dolley Madison in Love and War. New York: Bantam, 1994. High Hearts. New York: Bantam, 1986. Hotspur. New York: Ballantine, 2002. In Her Day. Plainfield, Vt.: Daughters, Inc., 1976. Outfoxed. New York: Ballantine, 2000. Riding Shotgun. New York: Bantam, 1996. Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser. New York: Bantam, 1997. Rubyfruit Jungle. Plainfield, Vt.: Daughters, Inc., 1973. Six of One. New York: Harper, 1978. Southern Discomfort. New York: Harper, 1982. Sudden Death. New York: Bantam, 1983. Tale of the Tip-Off. New York: Bantam, 2003. Venus Envy. New York: Bantam, 1993.

BROWN, ROSELLEN (1939– ) Rosellen Brown, one of Ms. magazine’s Women of the Year in 1984, received the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters award in 1987. Of her five novels, three—Tender Mercies (1978), Before and After (1992), and Civil Wars (1984)—have been adapted into feature-length films. Also the author of three volumes of poetry and a short-story collection, Brown has been praised for her portrayals of racial issues, mother-daughter relationships, and for her evocations of our ties to family and community. Her “forte,” says reviewer Rochelle Ratner, “is beginning her novels at the very moment when the family structure begins to fall apart, and picking up the action from that point” (Ratner, 31). Because she writes so often about families, Brown told inter-

viewer Mickey Pearlman that she often writes from a feeling of “sheer terror,” hoping that if she tells these stories, they won’t actually happen (Pearlman, 106). But critic Merla Wolk thinks that Brown’s female characters must experience disaster in order to “have access to verbal power,” and to express themselves confidently (Wolk, “Offerings”). Rosellen Brown was born on May 12, 1939, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to David H. Brown, a salesman, and Blossom Lieberman Brown. She earned a bachelor of arts degree at Barnard College in 1960, and a master’s degree at Brandeis University in 1962. She married Marvin Hoffman, a teacher, in 1963, and, after a Woodrow Wilson fellowship that took her to Mississippi during the civil rights era, embarked on a writing and teaching career. Her first novel, The Autobiography of My Mother (1976), depicts the often hostile relationship between Gerda Stein, a wellknown civil rights lawyer, and Renata, “her alienated, withered flower-child daughter” (Brown, Seaquist interview). As enmities between the two magnify, Renata’s daughter Tippy slips from her grasp and falls to her death. Yet another disaster occurs in Tender Mercies, Brown’s second novel, as Dan Sturrock mishandles a boat; the ensuing accident results in his wife Laura Courser’s broken neck and paralysis. Laura still functions intellectually, but she will be a quadriplegic for the rest of her life. Civil Wars also courts disaster, an auto accident that orphans two children; they are sent to their uncle, Teddy Carll, an aging and discontented civil rights activist who “left his heart and soul in the sixties” (Simon, 113), and his wife, Jessie. Jessie teaches her nephew and niece to discard their racist attitudes. Brown’s fourth novel, Before and After, opens with the discovery of the body of a pregnant teenager who has been brutally murdered. The novel focuses on Jacob Reiser, the 17-year-old boy who murdered her, and the effects of his behavior on his father, Ben, an artist; mother, Carolyn, a doctor; and 12-year-old sister Judith, who is the moral voice in the book (Brown, Seaquist interview). Jacob is the only one who does not tell his story. Carolyn testifies against him, Ben concocts a story, and Jacob’s trial ends with a hung jury. Half A Heart (2000) once again examines a mother-daughter


relationship and race relations, this time between Miriam Viner, who conceived a child with Eljay, a black Mississippi college professor during the Civil Rights movement, and the long-lost daughter, Ronnee, who seeks out Miriam in her affluent Houston suburb. Rosellen Brown most recently taught at Northwestern University. She lives with her husband in Chicago.

NOVELS The Autobiography of My Mother. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1976. Before and After. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1992. Civil Wars. New York: Knopf, 1984. Half a Heart. New York: Farrar, Straus, 2000. Tender Mercies. New York: Knopf, 1978.

SOURCES Allen, Bruce. “Tense Novel of Residual Idealism, Racism,” Christian Science Monitor 77, no. 185 (August 15, 1985): 22. Armstrong, Isobel. “In Death Estranged.” Times Literary Supplement, 5 March 1993, p. 21. Bell, Pearl K. “Fiction Chronicle,” Partisan Review 60, no. 1 (Winter 1993): 65–66. Birkerts, Sven. “Family Secrets,” New Republic, 2 November 1992, pp. 40–42. Brown, Rosellen. “Belles Lettres Interview: Rosellen Brown.” By Carla Seaquist. Belles Lettres 8, no. 2 (Winter 1992): 34–39. ———. “An Interview with Rosellen Brown.” By Karla Hammond. Chicago Review 33, no. 3 (Winter 1983): 117–125. ———. “An Interview with Rosellen Brown.” By Melissa Walker. Contemporary Literature 27, no. 2 (Summer 1986): 144–159. ———. “An Interview with Rosellen Brown.” Missouri Review 17, no. 1 (1994): 91–115. ———. “PW Interviews: Rosellen Brown.” By Judith Pierce Rosenberg. Publishers Weekly 239, no. 39 (August 31, 1992): 54–55. Brzezinski, Steve. Review of Half a Heart, by Rosellen Brown, Antioch Review 58, no. 4 (Fall 2000): 525–526. D’Erasmo, Stacey. “Home Fires.” Nation, 28 September 1992, pp. 333–335. Dunford, Judith. “Realms of Wrong and Right.” Chicago Tribune Books, 6 September 1992, pp. 1, 6. Eder, Richard. “Troubled Family Needs a Reality Check.” Los Angeles Times, 3 September 1992, pp. E4. Fried, Kerry. “Criminal Elements,” New York Review of Books 40, no. 3 (January 14, 1993): 36–37.

Glastonbury, Marion. “Fighting Words,” New Statesman 108, no. 2788 (August 24, 1984): 22–23. Haskell, Molly. “Race and Reunion,” New Leader 83, no. 2 (May–June 2000): 33–34. Johnston, Darcie Conner. “A Crack across Their Lives,” Belles Lettres 8, no. 2 (Winter 1992): 31, 39. Lee, Don. “About Rosellen Brown,” Ploughshares 20, nos. 2–3 (Fall 1994): 235–240. Parson-Nesbitt, Julie. Review of Cora Fry’s Pillow Book, by Rosellen Brown, Belles Lettres 11, no. 1 (January 1996): 34. Pearlman, Mickey. “Rosellen Brown.” In Inter/View: Talks with America’s Writing Women, 103–110. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1990. ———, and Katherine Usher Henderson. “Rosellen Brown.” In A Voice of One’s Own: Conversations with America’s Writing Women, 121–130. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Ratner, Rochelle. “Categorically Writing,” American Book Review 15, no. 4 (October 1993): 31. Simon, Linda. Review of Civil Wars, by Rosellen Brown, Prairie Schooner 59, no. 2 (Summer 1985): 113–115. Walzer, Judith B. “After the Movement,” Dissent 32 (Spring 1985): 244–246. Wolk, Merla. “Offerings: The Price of Speaking Out in the Fiction of Rosellen Brown,” Critique 38, no. 2 (Winter 1997): 123–134. ———. “Uncivil Wars: The Reproduction of MotherDaughter Conflict and Rosellen Brown’s Autobiography of My Mother,” American Imago 45, no. 2 (Summer 1988): 163–185.

BROWN, WILLIAM WELLS (1816–1884) A pivotal figure in African-American literary history, William Wells Brown wrote CLOTEL; OR, THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER (1853), the first African-American novel, as well as the first play, the first travel narrative, and Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Written by Himself (1847), that went through six editions in the United States and England. Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter has assured Brown of a permanent place in history: Published only one year after Harriet Beecher STOWE’s UNCLE TOM’S CABIN, this powerful social protest novel painted a more horrific picture of the realities of slavery than did Stowe’s best-seller. William Wells Brown was born in slavery around 1816 (some sources say 1814) near Lexington, Kentucky, to Elizabeth Brown. Much of the biographical information comes from his daughter Josephine’s book,


Biography of an American Bondman, by His Daughter (1856). His father was George Higgins, a slaveholder, and a neighbor of Dr. John Young, a physician, farmer, and politician, who became Brown’s first master. Sold to five different masters by 1833, Brown made two unsuccessful escape attempts (one with his mother, who was sold down the river) before his successful escape on New Year’s Day, 1834, to Cleveland, Ohio. He took his name from Wells Brown, the Quaker who helped him escape. That same year, Brown married Elizabeth Schooner and moved to Buffalo, New York, where he first became active in antislavery and temperance activities. In 1847 he published his Narrative, and the following year Brown and his wife separated; he moved to Boston with his two daughters and then to London, where he continued to write as a journalist and abolitionist while publishing his travel book, Three Years in Europe (1852). The first version of Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter followed. Since Brown was well aware of the rumor that Thomas Jefferson’s mulatto daughter had been sold on the auction block, he based his protagonist on her. His novel contained more information on the realities of slavery than any novel previously published by an American; the novel went through three revisions and title changes, the final version appearing two years after the end of the Civil War. A British friend bought Brown’s freedom in 1854, at which time he returned to the United States, married Annie Elizabeth Gray, and continued writing historical works about African Americans in the military and as citizens during Reconstruction. In later years Brown practiced medicine and had an office in Boston. He died in the Boston suburb of Chelsea on November 6, 1884. William Wells Brown’s papers are held in numerous places, including the Boston Public Library; the Butler Library, Columbia University; the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore; the George Arents Research Library at Syracuse University; the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; the Houghton Library, Harvard University; and the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library.

NOVEL Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States. London: Partridge & Oakey, 1853; rev. ed., Clotelle: A Tale of Southern States. Boston: J. Redpath,

and New York: H. Dexter Hamilton, 1864; rev. ed., Clotelle: or, The Colored Heroine; A Tale of the Southern States. Boston: Lee, 1867.

SOURCES Andrews, William L. Introduction to From Fugitive Slave to Free Man: The Autobiographies of William Wells Brown, edited by William L. Andrews, 1–12. New York: Mentor, 1993. ———. “Mark Twain, William Wells Brown, and the Problem of Authority in New South Writing.” In Southern Literature and Literary Theory, edited by Jefferson Humphries, 1–21. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990. ———. “The Novelization of Voice in Early African-American Narrative,” PMLA 105 (January 1990): 23–34. ———. To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1760–1865, 27–29, 144–151, 171–176, 272–274. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986. Bell, Bernard W. The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition, 38–42. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987. Brown, Josephine. Biography of an American Bondman, by His Daughter. Boston: Wallcut, 1856. Brown, William Wells. Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Written by Himself. Boston: Anti-Slavery Office, 1847; enlarged, 1848; republished as Narrative of William W. Brown, an American Slave, Written by Himself. London: Charles Gilpin, 1849. Butterfield, Stephen. Black Autobiography in America, 9–89. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1974. Dorsey, Peter A. “De-authorizing Slavery: Realism in Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Brown’s Clotel,” ESQ 41 (Winter 1995): 256–288. Ernest, John. “The Reconstruction of Whiteness: William Wells Brown’s The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom,” PMLA 113 (October 1998): 1108–1121. Fabi, M. Giulia. “The ‘Unguarded Expressions of the Feelings of the Negroes’: Gender, Slave Resistance, and William Wells Brown’s Revisions of Clotel,” African American Review 27, no. 4. (Winter 1993): 639–654. Gilmore, Paul. “ ‘De Genewine Artekil’: William Wells Brown, Blackface Minstrelsy, and Abolitionism,” American Literature 69 (December 1997): 743–780. Greene, J. Lee. Blacks in Eden: The African American Novel’s First Century, 23–62. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996. Heermance, J. Noel. William Wells Brown and Clotelle: A Portrait of the Artist in the First Negro Novel. Hamden, Conn.: Archon, 1969.


Jackson, Blyden. A History of Afro-American Literature. Vol. 1, The Long Beginning, 1746–1895, 326–342. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Loggins, Vernon. The Negro Author, His Development in America, 156–173. New York: Columbia University Press, 1931. Mulvey, Christopher. “The Fugitive Self and the New World of the North: William Wells Brown’s Discovery of America.” In The Black Columbiad: Defining Moments in African American Literature and Culture, edited by Werner Sollors and Maria Diedrich, 99–111. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994. Stepto, Robert B. From Behind the Veil: A Study of AfroAmerican Narrative, 26–31. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979. Yellin, Jean Fagan. The Intricate Knot: Black Figures in American Literature, 1776–1863, 154–181. New York: New York University Press, 1972.

BROWN GIRL, BROWNSTONES PAULE MARSHALL (1959) Set in Brooklyn during the 1930s and 1940s, Brown Girl, Brownstones is Paule MARSHALL’s first novel. Following the classic structure of a bildungsroman, it recounts the story of Selina Boyce, the daughter of Barbadian immigrants, from age 11 to 20. Told mainly from Selina’s point of view, the story reveals the frustration and pain of growing up in a violent family. Selina is caught between her hard-working and determined mother, Silla, and her frustrated and passive father, Deighton. The novel opens with the image of the “unbroken line of brownstone houses down the long Brooklyn street” (3), and depicts a predominantly oppressive atmosphere of poverty and lack of possibilities, with the drama of World War II in the background. These houses are multilayered symbols: they are a silent and disturbing presence that represents the color of the protagonist’s skins, the racial problems of the community, and a pessimistic vision of these characters’ tragic lives. Most important, they signal Silla’s obsession to “buy house,” or own property, a desire that permeates the community’s life. Silla manages to sell her husband’s property in Barbados, only to have him squander the money. However, nothing stops her from buying her house: she visits a loan shark, rents out rooms, and denounces the amoral life of her neighbor Suggie. Selina’s preference for her father marks her childhood profoundly. A weak dreamer who

never worked, Deighton wanted to live like a white man, return to Barbados, and build a house. An accident at a job leaves him crippled and depressed. His frustration and growing sense of alienation lead him leave his family to join Father Peace’s sect. Silla, unable to bear this abandonment, denounces him to the police who then deport him; Deighton throws himself overboard before arriving at Barbados. Selina mourns her father deeply, dressing in black for more than a year. Her efforts to understand her mother characterize the different stages of her life; she rejects her mother’s ambition and hates her for what she did to her father. At the end of the novel, however, she realizes that she is like her mother, willing to transgress norms in order to fulfill her dreams. Confident about her possibilities, she plans carefully and earns the money to leave Brooklyn. Just as her mother lied to sell her father’s land, Selina lies to acquire the Barbadian Homeowners Association’s grant so she can run away with her lover, Clive. In this relationship, Selina, like her mother before her, is the active partner, studying, working, planning. Successful at everything she sets her mind to, Selina is gradually disillusioned by Clive who, frustrated by her superiority, becomes more and more passive, leading her to leave him. As she begins to engage in American society again, Selina becomes aware of the different barriers that mainstream society builds against black immigrants; she realizes that white people do not look at her, seeing only her color. Her frustration leads her back to Barbados. Returning to her family roots, she seeks a redefinition and reassessment of her cultural identity, a difficult position between her American identity and her Afro-Caribbean background. Though considered an African-American novel, Brown Girl, Brownstones is more accurately an immigrant novel of the Caribbean diaspora, stemming from a tradition different from that of Richard WRIGHT, for instance, or Gwendolyn BROOKS. The Boyce family represents the Barbadians who immigrated to New York during the first half of the 20th century, pursuing their American dream of prosperity and wealth, and of the hardships of many Caribbean-American families during the Great Depression and World War II. The novel also celebrates female heroism. With a prominently feminist perspective, Marshall establishes


women as centers of power, rather than as victims. Women are, in fact, the economic and emotional protagonists of the social life of Bajuns—the Barbadians’ nickname for themselves—in Brooklyn; their work and determination allow them to prosper, while the men remain in the background, in passive and secondary roles. Silla’s endurance, her rage, her devotion to the dollar and property, her determination to survive in “this man country” make her a symbol of this struggle. Selina speaks with the authentic voice of the Bajun community, and her insights on poverty, race, politics, the war, and colonialism offer a coherent portrait of the social process being enacted by the immigrants. She also symbolizes the anguish of second-generation immigrants who must adapt not only to America but to their parents’ dreams: Selina has to fight to fulfill her own destiny in life, clashing brutally with her mother’s expectations of her college career and medical school. Significantly in the context of ethnic writing, the novel emphasizes the positive value of roots, and suggests a cyclical nature to the immigrant process.

SOURCES Byerman, Keith E. “Gender, Culture and Identity in Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones.” In Redefining Autobiography in Twentieth Century Women’s Fiction: An Essay Collection, edited by Janice Morgan, et al., 135–147. New York: Garland, 1991. Delamotte, Eugenia C. Places of Silence, Journeys of Freedom: The Fiction of Paule Marshall. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998. Denniston, Dorothy Hamer. The Fiction of Paule Marshall: Reconstructions of History, Culture, and Gender. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995. Hathaway, Heather. Caribbean Waves: Relocating Claude McKay and Paule Marshall. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999. Japtok, Martin. “Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones: Reconciling Ethnicity and Individualism,” African American Review 32, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 305–315. MacPherson, Heidi S. “Perceptions of Place: Geopolitical and Cultural Positioning in Paule Marshall’s Novels.” In Caribbean Women Writers: Fiction in English, edited by Mary Condé and Thorunn Londsdale, 75–96. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. Marshall, Paule. Brown Girl, Brownstones. 1959. Reprint, New York: Feminist Press, 1981.

Pettis, Joyce. Toward a Wholeness in Paule Marshall’s Fiction. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996. Rose, Toby. “Crossroads Are Our Roads: Paule Marshall’s Portrayal of Immigrant Identity Themes.” In The Immigrant Experience in North American Literature: Carving Out a Niche, edited by Katherine B. Payan and Rose Toby, 109–121. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Rosalia Baena

BUCK, PEARL S. (PEARL COMFORT SYDENSTRICKER BUCK) (1892–1973) Although her name is practically synonymous with her Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, THE GOOD EARTH (1931), Pearl Buck, an internationally best-selling author, was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature (1938). She was also the author of more than 100 books, over 60 of them novels. She wrote plays, short stories, biographies, and numerous nonfiction essays and articles as well. After some decades of critical neglect, The Good Earth became an Oprah Book Club selection in 2004, nearly three-quarters of a century after it first appeared. The revival of interest in Buck’s work was energized by the publication in 1996 of Peter J. Conn’s Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography. Reared in China, Buck, who was fluent in both English and Chinese, set many of her novels in China and focused on such cultural issues as polygamy, foot binding, infanticide, interracial marriage, child slavery, prostitution, and opium addiction. The status of women was a constant theme in her work, and Buck, known for her deceptively simple writing style, which echoes Chinese folk narratives and fairy tales, chronicled the successes and defeats of three-dimensional characters for readers throughout the world. As the critic Paul A. Doyle noted, Pearl Buck was “the intermediary between two worlds and two cultures” (15). She received numerous honorary degrees and more than 300 humanitarian awards for her work on behalf of children’s welfare and the adoption of Amerasian children. Buck was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia, to Absalom Sydenstricker and Caroline Stulting Sydenstricker, both Presbyterian missionaries. After spending her first 17 years with her parents in Zhenjiang (Chinkiang), China, Buck was educated at Randolph-


Macon College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1914. On May 13, 1915, she married John Lossing Buck, an agricultural adviser, missionary, and economist, and later earned a master’s degree from Cornell University in 1926. She divorced Buck in 1935 and subsequently married Richard Walsh, president of John Day, her publisher. Pearl Buck’s first novel, East Wind: West Wind (1930), sets the themes she would return to throughout her work—the clash between Asian and Western cultures, traditional and contemporary values, age and youth, and the position of women—seen from the perspective of Kwei-lan, who is married to a Western-educated physician to whom she was betrothed before birth. In the second half of the novel, Kwei-lan’s brother marries a Westerner and becomes estranged from the family; hope arrives in the form of the half-Chinese, half-American child born of the union. In The Good Earth, Wang Lung rises from peasant farmer to wealthy landowner; he puts aside his faithful wife, O-lan, and becomes infatuated with Lotus (whom he makes his second wife), and with Pear Blossom, whom he takes from his son and makes his concubine. Two other novels complete the saga begun with The Good Earth, Sons (1932) and A House Divided (1935), and reveal the dashed hopes of Wang Lung as his sons and grandsons succumb to modern thought and reject both tradition and the dynasty Wang has built. Other important novels by Buck include The Mother (1934), in which a peasant woman, deserted by her husband, raises her children and tills the land until she has grandchildren. The Proud Heart (1938), set in the United States, presents the conflicts of sculptor Susan Gaylord, torn between the demands of art and those of marriage and family. The Patriot (1939), Dragon Seed (1942), and The Promise (1943) are historical novels that trace the causes of enmity between the Chinese and the Japanese. In Pavilion of Women (1946) Madame Wu, who abandons her rigidity and strict self-control when she engages in a love affair, is finally able to empathize with her son, who has fallen in love with a non-Chinese woman. Written from the point of a view of the bondmaid Peony in the house of Ezra Ben Israel, the novel Peony (1948) focuses on the assimilated Jewish community in Kaifeng (Kaifung) during the mid-19th century. In Imperial Woman (1956), the matriarch, Old

Buddha, finally copes with the inevitability of modern Western culture. Under the pseudonym “John Sedges” Buck wrote five carefully researched novels set in the United States: The Townsman (1945), about the early settlement of Kansas, followed by The Angry Wife (1947), The Long Love (1949), Bright Procession (1952), and Voices in the House (1953). Returning to an Asian setting, The Living Reed (1963) explores the history of the Kim family as it illuminates the changing conditions in Korea from 1883 to 1945. Another well-regarded novel, the somewhat autobiographical The Time Is Noon (1967), depicts a gifted young woman who divorces her first husband to marry the man she loves. Several of Pearl Buck’s novels have been adapted for the screen. A House Divided was filmed by Universal Pictures in 1932; The Good Earth and Dragon Seed were filmed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1937 and 1944, respectively; China Sky was filmed by RKO in 1945; and Satan Never Sleeps was filmed by Twentieth Century–Fox in 1962. Of Buck’s nonfiction, among the most admired are the biographies of her parents, The Exile (1936) and The Fighting Angel: Portrait of a Soul (1936). Buck founded Welcome House, an adoption agency for Amerasian children, in 1949. She died from lung cancer on March 6, 1973, in Danby, Vermont. In 1964 her home, Green Hills Farm, in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, became and remains the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, an advocate for Amerasian orphans.

NOVELS All Under Heaven. New York: John Day, 1973. The Angry Wife (under pseudonym John Sedges). New York: John Day, 1947. The Beech Tree. New York: John Day, 1954. Bright Procession (under pseudonym John Sedges). New York: John Day, 1952. China Flight. Philadelphia: Triangle/Blakiston, 1945. China Sky. Philadelphia: Triangle Books, 1942. The Chinese Story Teller. New York: John Day, 1971. Come, My Beloved. New York: John Day, 1953. Command the Morning. New York: John Day, 1959. Death in the Castle. New York: John Day, 1965. The Dragon Fish. New York: John Day, 1944. Dragon Seed. New York: John Day, 1942. East Wind: West Wind. New York: John Day, 1930. A Gift for the Children. New York: John Day, 1973. The Goddess Abides. New York: John Day, 1972.


God’s Men. New York: John Day, 1951. The Good Earth. New York: John Day, 1931. The Hidden Flower. New York: John Day, 1952. A House Divided. New York: Day/Reynal & Hitchcock, 1935. Imperial Woman. New York: John Day, 1956. Johnny Jack and His Beginnings. New York: John Day, 1954. Kinfolk. New York: John Day, 1949. Letter from Peking. New York: John Day, 1957. The Living Reed. New York: John Day, 1963. The Long Love (under pseudonym John Sedges). New York: John Day, 1949. Mandala. New York: John Day, 1970. The Mother. New York: John Day, 1934. Mrs. Starling’s Problem. New York: John Day, 1973. The New Year. New York: John Day, 1968. Once Upon a Christmas. New York: John Day, 1972. The Patriot. New York: John Day, 1939. Pavilion of Women. New York: John Day, 1946. Peony. New York: John Day, 1948. Portrait of a Marriage. New York: John Day, 1945. The Promise. New York: John Day, 1943. The Rainbow. New York: John Day, 1974. Satan Never Sleeps. New York: Pocket Books, 1962. Sons. New York: John Day, 1932. The Story of Dragon Seed. New York: John Day, 1944. This Proud Heart. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1938. The Three Daughters of Madame Liang. New York: John Day, 1969. The Time Is Noon. New York: John Day, 1966. The Townsman (under pseudonym John Sedges). New York: John Day, 1945. Voices in the House (under pseudonym John Sedges). New York: John Day, 1953. The Water-Buffalo Children. New York: Dell, 1943.

SOURCES Bentley, Phyllis. “The Art of Pearl S. Buck,” English Journal, 24 (December 1935): 791–800. Cargill, Oscar. Intellectual America: Ideas on the March. New York: Macmillan, 1941; New York: Cooper Square, 1968, 146–154. Cevasco, George A. “Pearl Buck and the Chinese Novel,” Asian Studies 5 (December 1967): 437–450. Conn, Peter J. Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Doyle, Paul A. Pearl S. Buck. Boston: Twayne, 1965. ———. “Pearl S. Buck’s Short Stories: A Survey,” English Journal 55 (January 1966): 62–68. Harris, Theodore F. Pearl S. Buck. A Biography, 2 vols. New York: Day, 1969, 1971.

Henchoz, Ami. “A Permanent Element in Pearl Buck’s Novels,” English Studies, 25 (August 1943): 97–103. LaFarge, Ann. Pearl Buck. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. Leisy, Ernest E. The American Historical Novel. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1950. Liao, Kang. Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Bridge across the Pacific. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997. Lipscomb, Elizabeth Johnston, Frances E. Webb, and Peter J. Conn. The Several Worlds of Pearl S. Buck: Essays Presented at a Centennial Symposium. Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. March 26–28. 1992. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Loewen, Nancy. Pearl Buck. Mankato, Minn.: Creative Education, 1995. Shimizu, Mamoru. “On Some Stylistic Features, Chiefly Biblical, of The Good Earth,” Studies in English Literature (Tokyo), English Number (1964): 117–134. Spencer, Cornelia. The Exile’s Daughter: A Biography of Pearl S. Buck. New York: Coward-McCann, 1944. Stirling, Nora. Pearl Buck: A Woman in Conflict. Piscataway, N.J.: New Century, 1983.



Charles Bukowski is the author of approximately 100 books, more than 40 of them volumes of poetry. Also a short-story writer and novelist, he remains a cult figure, the prolific and avant-garde chronicler of the impoverished and the dispossessed, especially those involved in copious amounts of sex, violence, and drugs. Some readers see him in the tradition of Henry MILLER or Ernest HEMINGWAY, with a subtle moral subtext beneath the macho and misogynist characters and themes, and some find him blatantly sexist. His seven novels typically feature a semiautobiographical protagonist named Henry Chinaski; he appears in the poems and short stories as well. Charles Bukowski was born on August 16, 1920, in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier, Henry Charles Bukowski Sr., and a German mother, Katherine Fett Bukowski. The family emigrated to the United States in 1922, and Bukowski was reared in a middleclass Los Angeles suburb. He left college after one year, married Barbara Fry in 1955, divorced her and married Linda Lee Beighle, and had a series of unskilled and menial positions before deciding to become a writer. His decision came late in life when he was nearly 50, and was aided by John Martin, founder of


Black Sparrow Press, who guaranteed him $100 a month if he would become a full-time writer (Brewer, 4). Bukowski wrote his first novel, Post Office (1981) in three weeks; Henry Chinaski, an alcoholic and sexually energetic postal worker, meets his match in a rich Texas woman who marries and then discards him for another man. Henry goes back to the post office. Factotum (1975) is another fictional treatment of Bukowski’s life, this time during and after World War II. It features a younger Henry who seems intent on working at and then leaving as many stultifying jobs as possible, linked to other working-class people on one level, but separated from them by his desire to write. WOMEN (1978) features sequential sexual liaisons that are, as Gay Brewer notes, “analogous” to Factotum’s stream of menial jobs. Set in the 1970s, just after the era utilized in Post Office, it focuses on Henry, who has now achieved some success as a poet, and who, the reader suspects, will settle with or for one woman. The Henry of HAM ON RYE (1982) (his most critically acclaimed work) depicts a fictionalized Bukowski who has been compared by many critics to Mark TWAIN’s Huckleberry Finn. Henry Chinaski is quintessentially American in his rebelliousness, wanderlust, and refusal to become what Huck would call “sivilized.” In Hollywood (1989), Henry is an old man in Hollywood whose life as a young man is being made into a movie similar to Barfly (1987), the screenplay Bukowski wrote about three days in the life of Bukowski/Henry Chinaski. Bukowski died on March 9, 1994, of leukemia, in San Pedro, California. Pulp, his last novel, published posthumously in 1994, is a spoof on the American detective novel as written by Dashiell HAMMETT and Raymond CHANDLER. His papers are divided between special collections at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and at Temple University.

NOVELS Factotum. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1975. Ham on Rye. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1982. Hollywood. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1989. Horsemeat. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1982. Post Office. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1971. Pulp. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1994. Women. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1978.

SOURCES Brewer, Gay. Charles Bukowski. New York: Twayne, 1997. Cherkovski, Neeli. Bukowski: A Life. South Royalton, Vt.: Steerforth Press, 1997. ———. Hank: The Life and Times of Charles Bukowski. New York: Random House, 1991. Christy, Jim. The Buk Book: Musings on Charles Bukowski. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: ECW Press, 1997. Dorbin, Sanford. A Bibliography of Charles Bukowski. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1969. Fox, Hugh. Charles Bukowski: A Critical and Biographical Study. Somerville, Mass.: Abyss Publications, 1969. Harrison, Russell. Against the American Dream: Essays on Charles Bukowski. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1994. Richmond, Steve. Spinning off Bukowski. Northville, Mich.: Sun Dog Press, 1996. Sherman, Jory. Bukowski: Friendship, Fame, and Bestial Myth. Augusta, Ga.: Blue Horse Press, 1982. Weinberg, Jeffrey, ed. A Charles Bukowski Checklist. Sudbury, Mass.: Water Row Press, 1987.

OTHER Pegasos: Books and Writers. “Charles Bukowski.” Available online. URL: http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/bukowski.htm. Accessed June 6, 2005.

BULOSAN, CARLOS (1913–1956) Author of poetry, essays, short stories, and an autobiographical novel, Carlos Bulosan was a distinguished FilipinoAmerican writer whose work has become a pillar of Asian-American studies courses and literature classes. AMERICA IS IN THE HEART (1946), once considered by critics to be more novel than autobiography, detailed the narrator’s childhood in the Philippines and and his move to the United States. There he attempted to survive, despite virulent racism. Carlos Bulosan was born on either November 2 or November 24, in 1911, 1913, or 1914, in Binalonan, Pangasinan, the Philippines. After several years of secondary schooling, he sailed for Seattle, Washington, to join his older brother Aurelio and arrived on July 22, 1930. He became a migrant worker and union activist; it was during his hospitalization for tuberculosis that he became a writer, penning short stories, essays, editorials, letters, poems, plays, and his autobiographical novel. He was influenced by writers like Theodore DREISER, James


T. FARRELL, and John STEINBECK, and was asked by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to write a magazine essay: “Freedom from Want” that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on March 6, 1943 (San Juan, “Searching for the Heart of America”). America Is in the Heart expresses both the pervasiveness of racism in America and the optimistic belief that all its citizens will share an equal chance at achieving the American dream. Bulosan’s popularity, however, was short-lived; he was apparently blacklisted during the McCarthy era because of his sympathy with leftist and socialist causes, and he suffered bouts of depression and alcoholism. Weak from his long illness and extreme poverty, he died of pneumonia in Seattle on September 13, 1956. He is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in the Queen Anne district of that city, and his papers, and several unpublished novels, are housed at the University of Washington.

NOVEL Bulosan, Carlos. America Is in the Heart. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1943; Reprint, with introduction by Carey McWilliams. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1973.

SOURCES Bulosan, Carlos. The Cry and the Dedication. Edited by E. San Juan, Jr. Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, 1995. Evangelista, Susan. Carlos Bulosan and His Poetry: A Biography and Anthology. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1985. Morantte, P. C. Remembering Carlos Bulosan. Quezon City, the Philippines: New Day, 1984. San Juan, E., Jr. Carlos Bulosan and the Imagination of the Class Struggle. New York: Oriole Editions, 1972.

OTHER De Leon, Ferdinand M. “Revisiting the life and legacy of pioneering Filipino writer Carlos Bulosan.” Reflections of Asia. Available online. URL: http://www.reflectionsofasia. com/carlosbulosan.htm. Accessed June 6, 2005. Philippine American Literary House. “The Gift of My Father.” Available online. URL: http://www.palhbooks.com/bulosan. htm. Accessed June 6, 2005. San Juan, E., Jr. “Searching for the Heart of America: Reintroducing Carlos Bulosan.” In Centenaryo Centennial: The Philippine Revolution and the Philippine-American War.

Edited by Jim Zwick. FFP Bulletin (Spring 1993). Available online. URL: http://www.boondocksnet.com/centennial/ sctexts/bulosan.html. Accessed August 22, 2005.

BURROUGHS, EDGAR RICE (1875–1950) Author of about 70 books, Edgar Rice Burroughs will forever be associated with the mythic Tarzan novels, one of the most popular series ever produced in the United States. These novels about an English lord’s son who was raised by apes in the jungle, have sold more than 100 million copies in 30 languages. The 24 novels of the Tarzan series, however, represent roughly one-third of Burroughs’s publications. There are also the Mars or Martian series, the Pellucidar series, and the Venus series, which most readers consider to be science fiction. Although the work of such a prolific writer is usually uneven, critics of the last two decades especially have increasingly paid attention to Burroughs and his novels. Edgar Rice Burroughs was born on September 1, 1875, in Chicago, Illinois, to George Tyler Burroughs, a Union veteran of the Civil War who owned a prosperous distillery, and Mary Evaline Zieger Burroughs. Although Burroughs managed to graduate from high school, he began his career as a novelist after two decades of dull jobs and failed business ventures. These left him and his wife, Emma Centennia Hulbert, whom he married in 1900, in desperate poverty. In 1911, reduced to living in his father’s house, Burroughs wrote his first novel and sold it to All-Story, a significant science fiction magazine of the day. Written under the pseudonym Norman Bean, it did not appear in book form—as A Princess of Mars—until 1917, by which time Burroughs had published 19 books. The Mars series concerns the conquest of Mars, called Barsoom in the novels, by John Carter, an ageless Virginia aristocrat. The Pellucidar series, set in the bowels of the Earth, features David Innes, a prosperous graduate of Yale who becomes emperor of the denizens of Earth’s core. TARZAN OF THE APES (1912), the first in that series, is by general critical agreement the best of all the Tarzan books. Lord Greystoke and his wife, Alice, marooned on the West African coast, build a jungle tree house where they live until the infant Tarzan is born; they die soon afterward, and Tarzan is adopted by Kala, an ape


who has lost her own baby. Tarzan educates himself with books left in the treehouse by his parents, learns to speak French from a passing Frenchman, and communicates perfectly with the animals of the jungle. The novel ends as he meets Jane Porter, visits her home in Baltimore, and receives the title he inherited from his father. The Tarzan novels include the themes of Darwinism, eugenics, and the clash of the fantasy world with the real world. There is a subtext concerning rape, as women are frequently pursued by lustful men who must be vanquished by Tarzan or one of his cohorts. Off the page, Tarzan became Hollywood legend, with actors becoming stars after playing the role of the jungle man. Burroughs was unhappy about the changes in the portrayal of the movie Tarzan, played by Johnny Weismuller, particularly his projection as ignorant, ill educated, and monosyllabic, and completely unlike the Tarzan of the early novels. However, as scholar Erling B. Holtsmark notes, Burroughs seems to have assimilated the Hollywood Tarzan into his later Tarzan novels, his hero now “lapsing into monosyllabic or pidginlike English” quite unlike the earlier Tarzan who was “highly articulate and indeed a phenomenal linguist” (Holtsmark, 32). Burroughs divorced his wife, who was by then an alcoholic, in 1934, and married Florence Gilbert Dearholt in 1935. Increasingly worried about finances and by his excessive alcohol use, Burroughs and Florence moved to Hawaii. They divorced in 1942. He returned to California in 1944, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and died of heart disease and hardening of the arteries. The ashes of one of America’s most popular novelists are stored in the Chapel of the Pines Crematorium in Los Angeles. Although aspects of his novels will be deemed “politically incorrect” by critics of a different era, Burroughs, through Tarzan, contributed to the familiar American yearning to be reunited with nature.

SELECTED TARZAN NOVELS The Land that Time Forgot. Chicago: McClurg, 1924; republished in three volumes as The Land that Time Forgot, The People that Time Forgot, and Out of Time’s Abyss. New York: Ace, 1963. The Return of Tarzan. Chicago: McClurg, 1915. The Son of Tarzan. Chicago: McClurg, 1917. Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Chicago: McClurg, 1928. Tarzan and the Ant Men. Chicago, and London: McClurg, 1924.

Tarzan of the Apes. Chicago: McClurg, 1914. Tarzan the Terrible. Chicago: McClurg, 1921.

SELECTED MARS NOVELS The Chessmen of Mars. Chicago: McClurg, 1922. The Gods of Mars. Chicago: McClurg, 1918. A Princess of Mars. Chicago: McClurg, 1917. Thuvia, Maid of Mars. Chicago: McClurg, 1920. The Warlord of Mars. Chicago: McClurg, 1919.

SELECTED PELLUCIDAR NOVELS At the Earth’s Core. Chicago: McClurg, 1922. Pellucidar. Chicago: McClurg, 1923.

SOURCES Cheyfitz, Eric. The Poetics of Imperialism: Translation and Colonization from “The Tempest” to “Tarzan.” Expanded ed. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. Edgar Rice Burroughs Bio Timeline 1875–1889. Available online. URL: http://home.westman.wave.ca/~hillmans/ erblin75.html. Accessed August 22, 2005. Fenton, Robert W. The Big Swingers. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1967. Essoe, Gabe. Tarzan of the Movies. New York: Citadel Press, 1968. Farmer, Philip J. Tarzan Alive. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1972. Heins, Henry H. A Golden Anniversary Bibliography of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Rev. ed. West Kingston, R.I.: Donald M. Grant, 1964. Jurca, Catherine. White Diaspora: The Suburb and the Twentieth-Century American Novel. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001. Kasson, John. Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man: The White Male Body and the Challenge of Modernity in America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001. Lupoff, Richard A. Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure. Rev. ed. New York: Ace, 1975. Morton, Walt. “Tracking the Sign of Tarzan: Trans-Media Representations of Pop-Culture Icon.” In You Tarzan: Masculinity, Movies and Men, edited by Pat Kirkham and Janet Thumim, 106–125. New York: St. Martin’s, 1993. Moskowitz, Sam, ed. Explorers of the Infinite. New York: World, 1963. Torgovnick, Marianna. Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

BURROUGHS, WILLIAM S(EWARD) (1914–1997) Considered by admirers to be one of the most talented 20th-century American writers, William S. Burroughs lived the eclectic life mirrored in


the drug subculture and homosexuality in two of his more notorious novels JUNKY (1977) and NAKED LUNCH (1959). Naked Lunch—its publication in the United States followed three years of court trials for obscenity—has also been called one of the most innovative and visionary novels produced by an American. Although Burroughs, who received a National Institute of Arts and Letters and American Academy award in literature in 1975, was one generation removed from the Beat writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack KEROUAC, he identified with their unconventionality; indeed, it was through Ginsberg’s connections that Junky was published, and Burroughs coauthored with Kerouac the as-yet-unpublished novel, “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks.” William S. Burroughs was born on February 5, 1914, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Mortimer P. Burroughs, a businessman and son of the inventor of the Burroughs adding machine, and Laura Lee Burroughs, a descendent of Civil War general Robert E. Lee. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1936, he was married to Ilse Herzfeld Klapper from 1937 until 1946, when he divorced her and married Joan Vollmer in 1946. He accidentally shot her on September 7, 1951. Queer (1985), a novel written soon after the accident, he said, is constructed around the painful and unmentioned shooting. Following his discharge for psychological reasons after only a few months in the U.S. Army, Burroughs worked at various dead-end jobs until his wife Joan introduced him to Jack Kerouac, who suggested that he try his hand at writing. The result was Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict (1953; published in 1977 as Junky), a novel told in the first person by William Lee, the autobiographical narrator who addresses the subject of Burroughs’s morphine addiction which lasted from the 1940s until 1957. Junky is considered a companion piece to Queer. By comparison to Naked Lunch, Junky is a straightforward account of a highly unconventional subject. In Naked Lunch, however, Burroughs experimented with form. Here he indicts middle-class American values and juxtaposes those fragments with descriptions of a 14-year drug addiction, specific homosexual acts, and murder, demonstrating the power of language in the hands of the writer or speaker who controls that language. The meaning of the title derives from the frozen moment when each diner can see what is on the end of each fork.

Burroughs uses a “cut-up” technique derived from his writing of Naked Lunch and from Brion Gysin, the artist who first used it—that is, he literally cuts texts into fragments and arranges them in random order. This is evident in the trilogy comprising The Soft Machine (1961), The Ticket That Exploded (1962), and Nova Express (1964). The Soft Machine is in fact the soft machine of the brain, susceptible to the alien viruses disseminated by those who use sex and drugs to control other people. The subject of mind control surfaces too in The Ticket That Exploded. Burroughs suggests antidotes to these viruses and substitutes space travel for the time travel of the earlier novel. He continues to explore those antidotes and the danger of falling prey to outside forces in Nova Express, the shortest and most direct novel in the trilogy. Burroughs supplemented the cut-up technique in The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead (1971) with film techniques, particularly the montage. The novel depicts the homosexual rebel “boys” who are fighting the viruses spread by the controlling powers. The rebel boys are led by Audrey Carsons, a Burroughs surrogate who reappears in stories collected in Exterminator! (1973) and the novel Port of Saints that, along with Ah Pook Is Here, demonstrate Burroughs’ experimental blending of science fiction, the western, and the fairy tale. Again Burroughs satirically analyzes social evil and repression, mixed with humor and obscenity. Audrey also appears in the first volume of Burroughs’s next trilogy, Cities of the Red Night (1981) and gradually becomes Kim Carsons in The Place of Dead Roads (1983), and The Western Lands (1988). Burroughs was at the core of the Beat movement and influential in the 1960s hippie counterculture movement as well. His papers are spread throughout the United States, at the Ohio State University, Arizona State University, the University of Kansas, Columbia University, and the University of Texas at Austin. Other items may be found at Northwestern University, Princeton University, and Syracuse University. He died on August 2, 1997, in Lawrence, Kansas.

NOVELS AND NOVELLAS Blade Runner: A Movie. Berkeley, Calif.: Blue Wind Press, 1979. Cities of the Red Night: A Boy’s Book. London: Calder; New York: Holt Rinehart, 1981.


Dead Fingers Talk. London: Calder, 1963. Interzone. London: Picador, 1989. Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict. (William Lee, pseud.). New York: Ace, 1953; London: Digit, 1957; complete edition, as Junky. London: Penguin, 1977. The Naked Lunch. Paris: Olympia Press, 1959; London: Calder, 1964; as Naked Lunch. New York: Grove Press, 1962. Nova Express. New York: Grove Press, 1964; London: Cape, 1966. The Place of Dead Roads. New York: Holt Rinehart, 1983; London: Calder, 1984. Port of Saints. Berkeley, Calif.: Blue Wind Press, 1980; London: Calder, 1983. Queer. New York: Viking, 1985; London: Pan, 1986. Short Novels. London: Calder, 1978. The Soft Machine. Paris: Olympia Press, 1961; New York: Grove Press, 1966; London: Calder and Boyars, 1968. The Ticket That Exploded. Paris: Olympia Press, 1962; rev. ed., New York: Grove Press, 1967; London: Calder and Boyars, 1968. The Western Lands. New York: Viking, 1987; London: Pan, 1988. The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead. New York: Grove Press, 1971; London: Calder and Boyars, 1972; rev. ed., London: Calder, 1979.

SOURCES “William Burroughs Issue” of Review of Contemporary Fiction 4, no. 1 (1984). Bokris, Victor, ed. With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker. New York: Seaver, 1981; London: Vermilion, 1982. Buffalo, N.Y.: Intrepid Press, 1971; rev. ed., as The Algebra of Need, London: Boyars, 1991; New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1996. Burroughs, William S. The Burroughs File. San Francisco, Calif.: City Lights, 1984. ———. Letters to Allen Ginsberg 1953–1957. New York: Full Court Press, 1982. ———. My Education: A Book of Dreams. New York: Viking, 1994. Film Adaptation. Caveney, Graham. Gentleman Junkie: The Life and Legacy of William S. Burroughs. Boston: Little, Brown, 1998. Goodman, Michael B., and Lemuel B. Coley. Contemporary Literary Censorship: The Case History of Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1981. ———. William S. Burroughs: A Reference Guide. New York: Garland, 1990. Harris, Oliver, ed. The Letters of William S. Burroughs: 1945–1959. New York, Viking; London: Picador, 1993.

Kostelanetz, Richard. “From Nightmare to Serendipity: A Retrospective Look at William Burroughs,” Twentieth Century Literature 11, no. 3 (October 1965): 123–130. McConnell, Frank D. “William Burroughs and the Literature of Addiction,” Massachusetts Review 8, no. 4 (Autumn 1967): 665–680. Miles, Barry. William Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible: A Portrait. New York: Hyperion, 1993. Morgan, Ted. Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs. New York: Holt, 1988; London: Bodley Head, 1991. Murphy, Timothy S. Wising Up the Marks: The Novels of William S. Burroughs. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Parkinson, Thomas. “Critical Approaches to William Burroughs, or How to Admit an Admiration for a Good Dirty Book.” In Poets, Poems, Movements, 313–320. Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1987. Silverberg, Ira, ed. Everything Is Permitted: The Making of Naked Lunch. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1992. Skerl, Jennie, and Robin Lydenberg, eds. William S. Burroughs at the Front: Critical Reception 1959–1989. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991. Skerl, Jennie. William Burroughs. Boston: Twayne, 1985. Sobieszek, Robert, A. Ports of Entry: William S. Burroughs and the Arts. Los Angeles, Calif.: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1996.

OTHER William S. Burroughs, 1914–1992. Available online. URL: http://www.thei.aust.com/bill/burroughs.html. Accessed August 27, 2005. Wired for Books. “Audio Interview with William Burroughs.” Available online. URL: http://wiredforbooks.org/ williamburroughs/. Accessed June 7, 2005.


Author of 14 novels and six short-story collections, Frederick Busch has a reputation as a multifaceted writer of novels and short stories. His style, called “experimental realism” by a number of critics, is a blend of postmodernism with traditional fictional components that many contemporary novelists eschew: As scholar Donald J. Greiner points out, Busch is “very much at ease” with contemporary fictional inventions while at the same time he employs the “traditional staples” of the novel: character, plot, setting, and theme (Greiner, 1988, 3). Busch is known for his presentation of mar-


ital and family issues and his sensitivity to the perspectives of children, but he has also written fiction deriving from the Beowulf legend (I Wanted a Year without Fall [1971]), the life of Charles Dickens (The Mutual Friend [1978]), the Holocaust (Invisible Mending [1984]), and characters haunted by the Civil War (The Night Inspector [1999]) and the Vietnam War (Closing Arguments [1991]). Busch has also written about the process of writing, most recently in A Dangerous Profession: A Book about the Writing Life (1998). Busch won the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction for his novel Invisible Mending and a 1994 PEN/Malamud Award for his short fiction. He was also a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award for Fiction in 1999 and for both a 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award for short stories and a 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel The Night Inspector. In spite of this recognition, a good number of critics believe that he is overrated as a thinker and a stylist and that he does not rank with the best contemporary writers despite his enormous output. Frederick Busch was born on August 1, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York, to Benjamin Busch, a lawyer, and Phyllis Schnell Busch, a teacher and author. He was educated at Muhlenberg College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1962, and he married Judith Burroughs, a teacher, in 1963. Earning his M.A. (1967) and D.Litt. (1980) degrees from Columbia University, Busch began teaching at Colgate University in 1966 and published his first novel, I Wanted a Year Without Fall in 1971. It is a story told to his son by Ben, about himself and his friend Leo in their youth. Busch says that he was trying to achieve the sort of “mythic dimension” and “ethic simplicity” found in Beowulf (Greiner, 1988, 176). Manual Labor (1974) is the much praised novel about the painful efforts of Phil and Annie to save their marriage after Annie suffers a miscarriage. The Mutual Friend, like Manual Labor, employs the viewpoint of George Dolby, Charles Dickens’s secretary, and Dolby’s view of Dickens in his last years. In Rounds (1979), Eli Silver, a pediatrician, tries to reshape his life after the death of his son and the resulting separation from his wife. Domestic Particulars (1976), closely related stories that most critics see as a novel, chronicles several generations of a New York family from 1919 to 1976 and

centers on Claire and Mac, whose marriage endures the rigors of the Great Depression and the McCarthy era but not too happily. Take This Man (1981) features Tony Prioleau, his lover Ellen Larue Spencer, and their son Gus; as Busch has elaborated, he had wanted for a long time to write it as a tribute to his mother-in-law, Helen Burroughs, who braved travel on country roads in order to reunite with her Sea Bee husband on the West Coast (Greiner, 1988, 186). Invisible Mending blended the horror of the Holocaust and the error-strewn lives of children of survivors. Sometimes I Live in the Country (1986) is a memorable evocation of Busch’s upstate New York and the lonely and displaced young boy Petey, whose father has kidnapped him from his Brooklyn home and taken him to the country. War Babies (1989) is a story of Busch’s contemporaries, those who were born during the war and have vague memories of blackouts, Victory Gardens, and President Roosevelt’s radio broadcasts. The following year, Harry and Catherine appeared, a situation in which the kind, good Harry and the independent, feminist Catherine try to make their relationship succeed. Closing Arguments follows Mark Brennan, an attorney whose attempts at a peaceful existence are interrupted by haunting, violent memories of his experiences as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. A Long Way From Home (1993), a story of abandonment, is told from a young boy’s perspective. He remembers his mother’s desertion of his father and his father’s subsequent abandonment of the son. Girls (1997) returns to upstate New York as Jack, a campus policeman brooding about the deterioration of his marriage to Fanny, searches for Janice, an abducted 14year-old girl. The highly acclaimed Night Inspector features William Bartholomew, a Civil War veteran who lost half his face in battle, and his collusion with Herman Melville in his attempts to save a shipload of children from slavery. Busch’s most recent novel is A Memory of War (2003). He and his wife still live in the country. He continues to teach at Colgate University, where he holds an endowed chair.

NOVELS AND NOVELLAS Closing Arguments. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1991. Domestic Particulars: A Family Chronicle. New York: New Directions, 1976.


Girls: A Novel. New York: Harmony, 1997. Hardwater Country. New York: Knopf, 1979. Harry and Catherine: A Love Story. New York: Knopf, 1990. I Wanted a Year without Fall. London: Calder & Boyars, 1971. Invisible Mending. Boston: Godine, 1984. Long Way from Home. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1993. Manual Labor. New York: New Directions, 1974. A Memory of War. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003. The Mutual Friend. New York: Harper & Row, 1978. The Night Inspector. New York: Harmony, 1999. Rounds. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979. Sometimes I Live in the Country. Boston: Godine, 1986. Take This Man. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1981. War Babies. New York: New Directions, 1989.

SOURCES Busch, Frederick. A Dangerous Profession: A Book about the Writing Life. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998. ———. When People Publish: Essays on Writers and Writing. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1986. ———, ed. Letters to a Fiction Writer. New York: Norton, 1999. Cunningham, Michael. “An Interview with Frederick Busch,” Iowa Journal of Literary Studies 3 (1981): 67–74. Garrett, George. “Such Scenes I Never Dreamed Of: Recent Books about the Civil War,” Sewanee Review 108, no. 2 (Spring 2000): 259–270. Greiner, Donald J. “The Absent Friends of Frederick Busch,” Gettysburg Review 3 (Autumn 1990): 746–754. ———. Domestic Particulars: The Novels of Frederick Busch. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988. Jorgensen, Bruce W. “ ‘A Grammar of Events’: A Conversation with Frederick Busch,” Literature and Belief 7 (1987): 26–40. Romano, John. “Frederick Busch: Mimesis and Intensity,” New York Arts Journal (February–March 1978): 23–24. Walker, Charlotte Zoeuml. “Practitioner of a Dangerous Profession: A Conversation with Frederick Busch,” Poets & Writers Magazine 27 (May/June 1999): 33–37.

BUTLER, OCTAVIA ESTELLE (1947–2006) Octavia Butler, novelist and short-story writer, specialized in science fiction. The best-known African-American woman in the field, she brought to her fiction issues of race and gender not normally present in the genre. Butler did not, however, elevate politics over art: her characters are carefully crafted and admired for their believability. She wrote about genetic engineering, issues of power, and interplanetary aliens, but also addressed

the more familiar conflicts in mother-daughter relationships. Butler is probably best known for her Patternmaster series of five novels that traces the domination of society by an elite group of telepathic individuals and for her fantasy novel KINDRED, published in 1979. She won both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for her novelette, Bloodchild, in 1995, and the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1999 for Parable of the Talents. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1995. Octavia Butler was born on June 22, 1947, in Pasadena, California, to Laurice Butler, who died when she was an infant, and Octavia Margaret Guy Butler. She was educated at Pasadena City College, earning her A.A. degree in 1968. During these years she was influenced by the fiction of Robert HEINLEIN, Marion Zimmer BRADLEY, Isaac ASIMOV, and Ursula K. LE GUIN. While attending a writing workshop, she met Harlan Ellison, who became her occasional mentor. Kindred, her only novel not extended into a series, features Edana Franklin, a young African-American woman living in contemporary Los Angeles, and her relationship across time with a white child in antebellum Maryland. He will become her slaveholding great-great-grandfather and, because he is necessary to father Edana’s great-grandmother, she, Edana, saves his life more than once. Of her two series, Patternmaster and Xenogenesis, the latter is widely admired for its description of the Cankali, alien rescuers. They arrive on Earth after a nuclear holocaust, determined to mix the best of their genes with the best of human genes. The Patternmaster series, too, has received significant attention and acclaim. Patternmaster was originally founded by Doro, a 4,000-year-old immortal Nubian, an elite group of telepaths who intend to create a group of superhumans. Covering 800 years of human history, the series includes Patternmaster (1976), Mind of My Mind (1977), Survivor (1978), Wild Seed (1980), and Clay’s Ark (1984). Butler spent her final years in Seattle, Washington. Her last novel, Parable of the Talents, is another example of her compelling blend of strong African-American women with mixed-race protagonists, wrestling with the difficulties of family and society.

NOVELS Adulthood Rites. London: Gollancz, 1988. Bloodchild, and Other Stories. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1995.


Clay’s Ark. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984. Dawn: Xenogenesis. New York: Warner, 1987. The Evening and the Morning and the Night. Eugene, Oreg.: Pulphouse, 1991. Imago. New York: Warner, 1989. Kindred. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979. Mind of My Mind. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1977. Parable of the Sower. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1993. Parable of the Talents. New York: Seven Stories Press, 1998. Patternmaster. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1976. Survivor. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1978. Wild Seed. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1980.

SOURCES Armitt, Lucie. “Space, Time and Female Genealogies: A Kristevan Reading of Feminist Science Fiction.” In Image and Power: Women in Fiction in the Twentieth Century, edited by Sarah Sceats and Gail Cunningham, 51–61. London: Longman, 1996. Butler, Octavia, and Frances M. Beal. “Black Women and the Science Fiction Genre,” Black Scholar (March/April 1986): 14–18. Butler, Octavia. Interview by Randall Kenan. Callaloo 14, no. 2 (Spring 1991): 495–504. Card, Orson Scott. Review of Wild Seed, Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago, by Octavia Butler. Fantasy & Science Fiction 78, no. 2 (February 1990): 40–43. Lee, Judith. “ ‘We Are All Kin’: Relatedness, Mortality, and the Paradox of Human Immortality.” In Immortal Engines: Life Extension and Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by George Slusser, Gary Westfahl, and Eric S. Rabkin, 170–182. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996. Peppers, Cathy. “Dialogic Origins and Alien Identities in Butler’s Xenogenesis,” Science-Fiction Studies 22, part 1 (March 1995): 47–62. White, Eric. “The Erotics of Becoming: Xenogenesis and The Thing,” Science-Fiction Studies 20, part 3 (November 1993): 394–408. Zaki, Hoda M. “Utopia, Dystopia, and Ideology in the Science Fiction of Octavia Butler,” Science-Fiction Studies 17, no. 2 (July 1990): 239–51.

OTHER Voices from the Gaps, Women Writers of Color: Octavia E. Butler. Available online. URL: http://voices.cla.umn.edu/ bios/entries/butler_octavia_estelle.html. Accessed August 27, 2005.

BUTLER, ROBERT OLEN (JR.) (1945– ) Robert Olen Butler was catapulted to national fame when he won the Pulitzer Prize for his collected short stories, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, published in 1992. Its subject is the Vietnam War experience, the major theme of five of Butler’s 10 novels: The Alleys of Eden (1981), Sun Dogs (1982), On Distant Ground (1985), (considered a loosely linked Vietnam trilogy), The Deuce (1989), and The Deep Green Sea (1998). Unlike many earlier writers who wrote about combat in Vietnam, Butler writes from different points of view, including those of Vietnamese immigrants, and uses different settings, from Saigon to Alaska to New Orleans. Many critics have praised his writing for these affective, sensuous details and for the clear depiction of his character’s emotions. Robert Olen Butler was born on January 20, 1945, in Granite City, Illinois, to Robert Olen Butler, Sr., a retired actor and former chairman of the theater department at Saint Louis University, and Lucille Hall Butler. Butler graduated summa cum laude in 1967 from Northwestern University and received a master of arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1969. Butler served with U.S. Army Military Intelligence units in Vietnam during the period 1969 to 1972. He has been married four times, to Carol Supplee, in 1968; to Marilyn Geller (a poet), in 1972; to Maureen Donlan, in 1987, and to Elizabeth Dewberry, in 1995. The title of his first novel, The Alleys of Eden, refers to the back streets of Saigon where most of the novel is set. Here Lanh, a Vietnamese prostitute, and Cliff, an American Army deserter, live happily for four years until they are separated during the fall of Saigon in 1975. The large cultural gap in their backgrounds becomes more apparent when they are reunited in Speedway, Illinois. Sun Dogs features Wilson Hand, a character from The Alleys of Eden who is suffering from his prisoner-of-war experiences and, later, from his ex-wife’s suicide; he dies in Alaska while working as a private investigator pursuing corporate spies. In Countrymen of Bones (1983) Butler departs from his involvement with Vietnam. Set in the post–World War II New Mexico desert, in this novel a university archeologist confronts an army physicist who works for the Manhattan Project. Wabash (1987), too, returns to the


past, this time to the Great Depression and a communist-infiltrated steel mill. Here Butler writes about racism, abuse of women, and class exploitation. In On Distant Ground, David Fleming releases a Viet Cong prisoner with whom he sympathizes, is court-martialed in the United States for his crime, and returns illegally to Vietnam to find his former lover and his Amerasian son only a short time before Saigon falls. The central figure of The Deuce is Tony, the Amerasian son of a Vietnamese mother and American father. Tony is a runaway who is stalked by a pederast. At the same time Tony is trying to make sense of his own origins and identity. They Whisper (1994) is Butler’s most controversial novel. The protagonist is Ira Holloway, a passionate lover of women who whisper their most intimate secrets to him. These secrets include his wife Fiona’s past, a childhood ruined by sexual abuse. Holloway’s strange punishment is his wife’s demand for daily sex. Love is the subject of The Deep Green Sea, again set in Vietnam, between Ben, a 48-year-old Vietnam veteran and Tien, a young mixed-race Vietnamese. Butler lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana. His most recent novel, Fair Warning (2002), depicts Amy Dickerson, sophisticated Manhattan auctioneer, as she faces greed, power, and the lust for ownership.

NOVELS The Alleys of Eden. New York: Horizon Press, 1981. Countrymen of Bones. New York: Horizon Press, 1983. The Deep Green Sea. New York: St. Martin’s, 1998. The Deuce. New York: Holt, 1989. Fair Warning. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2002. Mr. Spaceman. New York: Grove Press, 2000. On Distant Ground. New York: Knopf, 1985. Sun Dogs. New York: Horizon Press, 1982. They Whisper. New York: Holt, 1994. Wabash: A Novel. New York: Holt, 1987.

SOURCES Beidler, Philip D. Re-Writing America: Vietnam Authors in Their Generation. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991. Butler, Robert Olen. In Conversations with American Novelists, edited by Kay Bonetti, Greg Michalson, Speer Morgan, Jo Sapp, and Sam Stowers, 201–216. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997. Butler, Robert Olen, and Michael Sartisky. “Robert Olen Butler: A Pulitzer Profile.” In The Future of Southern Letters, edited by Jefferson Humphries and John Lowe, 155–169. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Smith, Lorrie. “The Rhythms of Timeless Desire (No Phallus Necessary),” New England Review 17, no. 2 (Spring 1995): 175–180.



CABELL, JAMES BRANCH (1879–1958) James Branch Cabell has not had the revival that other American writers have enjoyed, yet he was at the center of a cause célèbre in the 1920s. (His novel Jurgen, published in 1919, was reviled as pornographic.) Cabell, one of the 1920s literati, wrote 20 novels, but as critics have observed, he remains the sort of writer who will irritate some readers and delight others. Both camps admire his style—comic and erotic—and his deep knowledge of myth and legend. Clearly, Cabell admired the chivalry of medieval times. He wrote a 20volume autobiography, somewhat fictionalized, called The Biography of the Life of Manuel: The Works of James Branch Cabell, and scholars still believe it was his most significant work. He remains best known for one volume of The Life of Manuel, namely Jurgen. James Branch Cabell was born on April 14, 1879, in Richmond, Virginia, at home, on the site where the Richmond Public Library now stands. The family of his mother, Anne Branch, was prominent in Richmond, and his father, Robert Gamble Cabell II, was the grandson of General Robert E. Lee’s personal physician. Educated at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, Cabell returned to Richmond. His name was associated with scandals in both places and he continued to live the life of a roué, earning a living as a genealogist and writing his first novels and short stories. In 1913 he married Rebecca Priscilla Bradley Shepherd, a widow with five children who made sure that Cabell had privacy and quiet for his

writing. From then on, he wrote prolifically, creating the medieval setting of Poictesme for his ambitious epic. His earlier novels—The Rivet in Grandfather’s Neck (1915) and The Cream of the Jest (1917)—were followed by Jurgen, Figures of Earth (1921), The Silver Stallion (1926), and Something About Eve (1927), all in different ways about the basic tension between illusion and reality, and men and women. His allegorical and antic characters engage in the three types of behavior Cabell identifies: chivalric, gallant, and poetic. In Jurgen especially, the characters pass through each stage, moving from religious struggles (chivalry) to a more liberated but respectful and ritualistic sexuality (gallantry) to the more contemplative and less playful poetic state. In the mythic structure of the novel, Jurgen, the Everyman figure—a 40-year-old man with the body of a 20-year-old—loses his youthful passion for Dorothy la Désirée, enacts the code of chivalry for Queen Guenevere, who represents faith, the code of gallantry with the insatiable Queen Anaitis who represents desire, and the code of poetry with Queen Helen, who represents vision. Although he continued to write into the 1950s, by the time of the Great Depression, a majority of critics considered Cabell’s writing to be superficial and irrelevant to the bleak time so many Americans were suffering. At Virginia Commonwealth University, the James Branch Cabell Library opened its doors in 1970; it sponsors one of five Web sites devoted to Cabell, and offers the James Branch Cabell Prize each year for the



best essay on Cabell and his legacy. The University of Virginia Library in Charlottesville was designated by Cabell as the repository for his books and papers.

SELECTED NOVELS The Cream of the Jest. New York: McBride, 1917. The Devil’s Own Dear Son. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1949. Figures of Earth. New York: McBride, 1921. The First Gentleman of America. New York & Toronto: Farrar & Rinehart, 1942. Hamlet Had an Uncle. New York & Toronto: Farrar & Rinehart, 1940. Jurgen. New York: McBride, 1919. The King Was in his Counting House. New York & Toronto: Farrar & Rinehart, 1938. The Rivet in Grandfather’s Neck. New York: McBride, 1915. The Silver Stallion. New York: McBride, 1926. Smith. New York: McBride, 1935. Smire. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran, 1937. Smirt. New York: McBride, 1934. Something About Eve. New York: McBride, 1927. The St. Johns, by Cabell and A. J. Hanna. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1943. There Were Two Pirates. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1946. The Witch-Woman: A Trilogy about Her. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1948.

SOURCES Bruccoli, Matthew J. Notes on the Cabell Collections at the University of Virginia. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1957. Cabell, James Branch. As I Remember It. New York: McBride, 1955. ———. Between Friends: Letters of James Branch Cabell and Others. Edited by Padraic Colum and Margaret Freeman Cabell. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962. ———. The Letters of James Branch Cabell. Edited by Edward Wagenknecht. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1975. ———. Quiet, Please. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1952. Davis, Joe Lee. James Branch Cabell. Boston: Twayne, 1962. Flora, Joseph M. “Cabell as Precursor: Reflections on Cabell and Vonnegut,” Kalki 6 (1975): 118–137. Godshalk, William L. “Cabell and Barth: Our Comic Athletes.” In The Comic Imagination in America, edited by Louis Rubin, 275–283. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1973.

———. In Quest of Cabell: Five Exploratory Essays. New York: Revisionist Press, 1976. Inge, Thomas M., and Edgar E. MacDonald, eds. James Branch Cabell, Centennial Essays. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983. MacDonald, Edgar E. James Branch Cabell and Richmond-inVirginia. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993. Riemer, James D. From Satire to Subversion: The Fantasies of James Branch Cabell. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing, 1989. Rothman, Julius L. A Glossarial Index to the “Biography of the Life of Manuel,” James Branch Cabell Series. New York: Revisionist Press, 1976. Tarrant, Desmond. James Branch Cabell: The Dream and the Reality. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967. Untermeyer, Louis. James Branch Cabell: The Man and His Masks. Richmond, Va.: Whittet & Shepperson, 1970. Van Doren, Carl. James Branch Cabell. Rev. ed. New York: Literary Guild, 1932. Walpole, Hugh. The Art of James Branch Cabell. New York: McBride, 1978. Wells, Arvin R. Jesting Moses: A Study in Cabellian Comedy. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1962. Wilson, Edmund. “The James Branch Cabell Case Reopened,” New Yorker, 21 April 1956, pp. 129–156.




(1844–1925) Long admired as a 19th-century regionalist, George Washington Cable attracts contemporary readers because of his early understanding of and opposition to slaveholding. Author of nine novels about life in his native New Orleans, he is particularly noted for The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life (1880) and the novella MADAME DELPHINE (1881). A realistic writer of novels and short stories (see Old Creole Days [1879]) whose vivid use of detail evokes the still-familiar images of Louisiana bayous, New Orleans balconies and iron grillwork, he wrote preemptively about the burden of southern guilt over slavery, and about the decaying southern gentry, miscegenation, and racial injustice. Cable was born on October 12, 1844, to George W. Cable, a Virginian from an old slaveholding family, and Rebecca Boardman, a New England Puritan. He left school at age 14 because of his father’s death, and later served in the Confederate Army. After the end of the Civil War, Cable wrote articles for the New Orleans Picayune. In 1869 he married Louise S. Bartlett of New


Orleans. His first novel, The Grandissimes, takes place at the time of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Joseph Frowenfeld, an American of German ancestry who struggles to understand the feud between the Grandissimes, represented by Honoré Grandissime, and the Nancanous, represented by Aurora. Honoré’s half brother, also named Honoré, is a free man of color but still limited by his race and class. Cable’s second novel, Dr. Sevier (1884), depicts New Orleans during a yellow fever epidemic; John March, Southerner (1894), focuses on the Reconstruction era. Cable’s most popular work, however, was The Cavalier (1901), a Civil War romance, and he wrote about his father’s experiences on the Mississippi River in Gideon’s Band; A Tale of the Mississippi (1914). Through his use of local dialect and his preoccupation with miscegenation, Cable anticipates the novels of William FAULKNER and Robert Penn WARREN. Unpopular because of his sympathy for blacks, Cable and his wife moved to Northampton,Massachusetts, in 1884, where he wrote civil rights commentaries, published in The Silent South (1885) and The Negro Question (1890). He died on January 31, 1925, in St. Petersburg, Florida. His papers are housed at the Tulane University Library.

NOVELS Bylow Hill. New York: Scribner, 1902. The Cavalier. New York: Scribner, 1901. Dr. Sevier. Boston: Osgood, 1884. Gideon’s Band: A Tale of the Mississippi. New York: Scribner, 1914. The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life. Scribner, 1880. John March, Southerner. New York; Scribner, 1894. Kincaid’s Battery. New York: Scribner, 1908. Lovers of Louisiana (To-Day). New York: Scribner, 1918. Madame Delphine. New York: Scribner, 1881.

SOURCES Bendixen, Alfred. “The Grandissimes: A Literary Pioneer Confronts the Southern Tradition,” Southern Quarterly 18 (Summer 1980): 23–33. Berzon, Judith R. Neither White Nor Black: The Mulatto Character in American Fiction. New York: New York University Press, 1978. Biklé, Lucy Leffingwell Cable. George W. Cable: His Life and Letters. New York: Scribner, 1928.

Butcher, Philip. George W. Cable. Boston: Twayne, 1962. ———. George W. Cable: The Northampton Years. New York: Columbia University Press, 1959. Cardwell, Guy A. Twins of Genius. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1953. Cleman, John. George Washington Cable Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1996. Ekström, Kjell. George Washington Cable: A Study of His Early Life and Work. Uppsala, Sweden: Lundequistska Bokhandeln; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1950. Mixon, Wayne. Southern Writers and the New South Movement, 1865–1913, 98–109. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980. Petry, Alice Hall. “Universal and Particular: The Local Color Phenomenon Reconsidered,” American Literary Realism 12 (Spring 1979): 111–126. Pugh, Griffith T. “George Washington Cable,” Mississippi Quarterly 20 (1967): 69–76. Ringe, Donald A. “The Double Center: Character and Meaning in Cable’s Early Novels,” Studies in the Novel 5 (Spring 1973): 52–62. Rubin, Louis D. George W. Cable; The Life and Times of a Southern Heretic. New York: Pegasus, 1969. Turner, Arlln. Critical Essays on George W. Cable. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980. ———. George W. Cable. Southern Writers Series. Austin, Tex.: Steck-Vaughn, 1969. ———. George W. Cable: A Biography. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1956.

CAHAN, ABRAHAM (1860–1951) Abraham Cahan, who experimented with every literary genre, is best known today as the celebrated author of two novels and editor of the first major Jewish newspaper, the Socialist Jewish Daily Forward, founded in 1917. (The Forward, published in Yiddish, united Jews from Europe and became the most significant articulator of Jewish identity as it evolved in New York City’s Lower East Side.) In 1896 Cahan wrote Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto, the first major novel of immigrant experience, and in 1917 published The RISE OF DAVID LEVINSKY, the mythic story of a Jewish cloakmaker whose upward social mobility is accompanied by the inevitable gains, losses, and contradictions resulting from acculturation into American life. Abraham Cahan was born on July 6, 1860, in the town of Podberezy, Lithuania. He attended Vilna


Teachers’ Institute, where instruction was conducted in Russian, graduated in 1881, and immigrated to the United States in 1882 to escape the Russian pogroms. Four years after moving to New York, he married Anna Bronstein, a highly educated woman, of Kiev, Russia, on December 11, 1886. While he worked as a journalist (and made a living working in factories and teaching English), Cahan acted on behalf of exploited Jews by helping to organize a variety of unions. He also began to write, and with the encouragement of William Dean HOWELLS, he completed Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto. Cahan’s short novel sets forth in detail the paradoxes of immigrant assimilation into American life. As Yekl becomes the increasingly Americanized Jake, he divorces his wife, who reminds him of the past, and marries an Americanized woman, a symbol of Jake’s newly acquired aspirations and sense of possibility. Cahan also wrote The Imported Bridegroom (1898), a novella, and The White Terror and the Red (1905), a fictitious account of Russia during the chaotic days leading up to the Revolution of 1917. The conflict between czarist Russians and Jewish revolutionaries is epitomized by the romance between Prince Boulatoff, the Russian nobleman, and Clara Yavner, the Jewish commoner. Cahan’s masterpiece, The Rise of David Levinsky, which some critics feel is the first significant novel by an American Jew, paved the way for such writers as Bernard MALAMUD, Saul BELLOW, and Philip ROTH. It is, however, also a classic American realistic novel in the tradition of Howells, Theodore DREISER, and Jack LONDON. Narrated in the first person, the novel follows Levinsky from the Russian provinces to New York, where he becomes the classic American success story. He makes his money in the garment industry, a place identified with Russian Jews. Levinsky, now rich, finds only emptiness and sterility; he cannot connect his old life with his new. This permanent state of American fragmentation echoes from the 19th century and reappears in FITZGERALD’s Jay Gatsby, Bellow’s Augie March, and innumerable other 20th-century American characters. Cahan, who died in 1951 at the age of 91, contributed both to the history and the process of immigrant assimilation into American culture. His thousands of manuscripts and letters are housed in a

number of collections at the Bund Archives and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City.

NOVELS The Rise of David Levinsky. New York and London: Harper, 1917. Social Remedies. New York: New York Labor News Co., 1889. The White Terror and the Red: A Novel of Revolutionary Russia. New York: Barnes, 1905; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1905. Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto. New York: Appleton, 1896.

SOURCES Chametzky, Jules. From the Ghetto: The Fiction of Abraham Cahan. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1977. Engel, David. “The Discrepancies of the Modern: Reevaluating Abraham Cahan’s The Rise of David Levinsky,” Studies in American Jewish Literature 5 (Winter 1979): 68–91. Fiedler, Leslie. “Genesis: The American-Jewish Novel Through the Thirties,” Midstream 4 (Summer 1958): 21–33. Guttmann, Alan. The Jewish Writer in American: Assimilation and the Crisis of Identity. New York: Oxford, 1971. Harap, Louis. The Image of the Jew in American Literature: From Early Republic to Mass Immigration, 485–525. Philadelphia, Pa.: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1974. Higham, John. Introduction to The Rise of David Levinsky, v–xii. New York: Harper & Row, 1960. Howe, Irving. World of Our Fathers: The Journey of the East European Jews to America and the Life They Found and Made. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976. Howells, William Dean. Literature and Life, 177–179. New York: Harper, 1902. ———. “New York Low Life in Fiction,” New York World, 26 July 1896, 18. Kirk, Rudolf, and Clara M. Kirk. “Abraham Cahan and William Dean Howells: The Story of a Friendship,” American Jewish Historical Quarterly 52 (September 1962): 25–57. Marovitz, Sanford E. “The Lonely New Americans of Abraham Cahan,” American Quarterly 20 (Summer 1969): 196–210. ———. “Yekl: The Ghetto Realism of Abraham Cahan,” American Literary Realism, 1870–1910 2 (1969): 271–282. ———, and Lewis Fried. “Abraham Cahan. 1860–1951: An Annotated Bibliography,” American Literary Realism, 1870–1910 3 (Summer 1970): 197–243. Poole, Ernest. “Abraham Cahan: Socialist-JournalistFriend of the Ghetto,” Outlook 99 (October 28, 1911): 467–478.


Rischin, Moses. The Promised City: New York Jews, 1870–1914. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1962. Rosenfeld, Isaac. An Age of Enormity: Life and Writing in the Forties and Fifties. Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company, 1962. Sanders, Ronald. The Downtown Jews: Portraits of an Immigrant Generation. New York: Harper & Row, 1969. Singer, David. “David Levinsky’s Fall: A Note on the Liebman Thesis,” American Quarterly 19 (1967): 696–706. Strout, Cushing. “Personality and Cultural History in the Novel: Two American Examples,” New Literary History 1 (1970): 423–438. Zanger, Jules. “David Levinsky: Master of Pilpul,” Papers in Language and Literature 13 (Summer 1977): 283–294.

CAIN, JAMES M(ALLAHAN) (1892–1977) A journalist as well as a novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and scriptwriter, James M. Cain was one of the most successful of the “hard-boiled” writers of crime novels. He is usually considered with the writers Raymond CHANDLER and Dashiel HAMMETT, inventors of the private eyes Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. While Cain did not write detective fiction, he did invent in his 17 novels and 16 stories the “tough guy” hero derived in style and scope from H. L. Mencken and Ernest HEMINGWAY, both of whom had profound influence on Cain. This hero can be an aimless drifter or a bank executive, an ex-boxer or an industrial tycoon, but all, according to Cain scholar David Madden, “are pushed, lured, or tempted into breaking violently out of their straight jackets” (Madden, James M. Cain, 75). Cain’s bestknown novels include The POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1934), Double Indemnity (1936), Serenade (1937), and Mildred Pierce (1941); of these, all but Serenade were made into films now considered to be classics. James M. Cain was born on July 1, 1892, in Annapolis, Maryland, to James William Cain, professor of English and later president of Washington College, and Rose Cecilia Mallahan Cain, a former opera singer. Educated at Washington College, which Cain entered at age 14, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1910 at age 18. After receiving his master’s degree, also from Washington College, Cain served in the U.S. Army in France from 1917 to 1918, married Mary Rebekah Clough in 1920, and tried his hand at a variety of jobs until he began to write. Although he served as managing editor

of the New Yorker for part of 1931, he left New York for Hollywood where he worked as a scriptwriter and published his first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice, to instant bestsellerdom. The now classic tale of Southern California during the Great Depression features a love triangle and a murder: Frank Chambers, an aimless drifter, happens on Twin Oaks, the gas station and lunch room owned by Cora Papadakis, with whom he has a steamy affair, and Nick “the Greek” Papadakis, whom the lovers eventually murder. Postman was filmed twice in the United States (the earlier, 1938, MGM version starred Lana Turner and John Garfield) as well as in France and in Italy, and has been adapted as both stage play and opera. The MGM version made film history because Hollywood’s censoring mechanism, the Hays Office, held up distribution for eight years, finally releasing it in 1946. Double Indemnity, his second novel, was serialized in Liberty magazine and proved so popular that long lines of people awaited each issue. Like Postman, Double Indemnity is a tale of illicit love and murder in which an insurance agent, Walter Huff, and his lover, Phyllis Nirdlinger, conspire successfully to kill Phyllis’s husband. The 1944 Warner Brothers film again broke new ground, this time as a film noir classic. Cain’s third novel, Serenade, utilizes the now familiar themes of lust, murder, and betrayal; this time Cain features John Howard Sharp, who loses his magnificent opera voice after a homosexual advance from Stephen Hawes, the conductor; John regains both his voice and his sexual power by assaulting Juana, a Mexican prostitute, who murders Hawes. John’s voice betrays him, however, leading to the tragic denouement in a novel that caused a great deal of controversy for its time. In fact, it became required reading for psychiatry students across the country (Madden, James M. Cain, 51), and was made into a Warner Brothers film in 1956. Mildred Pierce, the last of Cain’s enormously popular 1930s novels, features two predatory, greedy women: Mildred Pierce, who has used men to help her rise from waitress to successful restaurateur, and Veda, her equally unprincipled and egotistical daughter. The novel ends when Mildred discovers her daughter in bed with her current husband. The 1945 Warner Brothers film noir classic earned Joan Crawford an Academy Award.


Cain continued to write novels, but only Past All Dishonor (1946), a best-selling tale of a Confederate soldier and a California prostitute, and The Butterfly (1947), a psychologically complex novel about incest, sold well. Cain left Hollywood, moved to Hyattsville, Maryland, with his fourth wife, Florence Macbeth Whitwell, whom he married in 1947. Today Cain’s most widely acclaimed novels attract young readers just as they had attracted their grandparents, and scholars are now examining all of Cain’s novels, including the less well known Sinful Woman (1947), The Moth (1948), Jealous Woman (1950), Galatea (1953), Mignon (1962), The Magician’s Wife (1965), Rainbow’s End (1975), and The Institute (1976). At their best, they present a searing and realistic glimpse into universal human foibles in general, during the era of the Great Depression in particular. When Cain died, of a heart attack, on October 27, 1977, in College Park, Maryland, nine of Cain’s novels had been made into films. Today his work is studied in university-level classes in American literature.

NOVELS The Butterfly. New York: Knopf, 1947. Cloud Nine. New York: Mysterious Press, 1984. Cain X 3. New York: Knopf, 1969. Career in C Major. New York: Knopf, 1943. Double Indemnity. New York: Knopf, 1936. The Embezzler. New York: Knopf, 1943. Galatea. New York: Knopf, 1953. The Government. New York: Knopf, 1930. Jealous Woman. New York: Avon, 1950. Love’s Lovely Counterfeit. New York: Knopf, 1942. The Magician’s Wife. New York: Dial Press, 1965. Mignon. New York: Dial Press, 1965. Mildred Pierce. New York: Knopf, 1941. The Moth. New York: Knopf, 1948. Past All Dishonor. New York: Knopf, 1946. The Postman Always Rings Twice. New York: Knopf, 1934. The Root of His Evil. New York: Avon, 1951. Serenade. New York: Knopf, 1937. Sinful Woman. New York: Avon Editions, 1947. Three of a Kind. New York: Knopf, 1943.

SOURCES Bradbury, Richard. “Sexuality, Guilt and Detection: Tension Between History and Suspense.” In American Crime Fiction: Studies in the Genre, edited by Brian Docherty, 88–99. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988.

Cain, James M. “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” In Cain X 3, 1–100. New York: Knopf, 1969. ———. “Publishers Weekly Interviews: James M. Cain.” By Thomas Chastain. Publishers Weekly 204 (July 24, 1972). Fine Richard. James M. Cain and the American Authors’ Authority. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992. Hoopes, Roy. Cain: The Biography of James M. Cain. New York: Holt, 1982. Madden, David. James M. Cain. Boston: Twayne, 1970. ———. Cain’s Craft. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1985. Marling, William. The American Roman Noir: Hammett, Cain and Chandler. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995. Nyman, Jopi. Hard-Boiled Fiction and Dark Romanticism. New York: Peter Lang, 1998. Oates, Joyce Carol, “Man under Sentence of Death: The Novels of James M. Cain.” In Tough-Guy Writers of the Thirties, edited by David Madden, 110–128. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968. Skenazy, Paul. James M. Cain. New York: Continuum, 1989.

CAINE MUTINY, THE HERMAN WOUK (1951) The Caine Mutiny is a military novel in the manner of James Gould COZZENS’s Guard of Honor. It offers a formal view of military life from the perspectives of officers who, for the most part, are committed to that life and believe strongly in the values that it embodies as well as those that it protects. WOUK sees little irony in the practical necessity of a strong, authoritarian institution serving the needs of a democratic society. This slant makes for a strong contrast between Wouk’s novel and a long line of American novels from Stephen CRANE’s RED BADGE OF COURAGE and John DOS PASSOS’s Three Soldiers to James JONES’s The Thin Red Line, Irwin SHAW’s The YOUNG LIONS, and even Joseph HELLER’s CATCH-22, in which the emphasis has been on the ordinary citizensoldier’s grudging adjustment to military duty. (Interestingly, the novel contains its own counterpoint in the novel, “Multitudes, Multitudes,” being written by one of its characters, a politically progressive young officer named Tom Keefer.) At its center, The Caine Mutiny is a novel of initiation and maturation, for its events very much transform a young officer named Willie Keith. Born into affluence and privilege, Keith has indulged in some mild dissipation while working as a night-club entertainer.


When the United States enters World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Keith enlists, attends classes at Columbia University to earn a midshipman’s rank, and is assigned to an old converted destroyer, the USS Caine. The events on board the ship force Keith to examine his values and to make choices on serious issues. He comes to recognize, in both his professional and personal lives, that being responsible involves not just defining one’s convictions but maintaining one’s integrity while wrestling with the ambiguous ramifications of almost every choice. Even the best-considered decision may have unforeseen and even ironic consequences and implications. Shortly after Keith join the USS Caine, it gets a new captain, Commander Philip Queeg. Almost immediately, the men on the Caine recognize that Queeg is a difficult eccentric. Obsessed with enforcing an adherence to every regulation and treating every infraction with an equal severity, Queeg is a judgmental authoritarian who lacks the capacity for sound judgment. This impression of him is reinforced when the ship takes to sea, and Queeg seems unable to cope with any conditions that require quick thinking and a flexible response. His behavior is particularly surprising given that the Caine’s assignments generally take it to the backwaters of the war effort in the Pacific. Indeed, when the Caine does participate in a frontline combat mission, supporting landing craft during the attack on Kwajalein, Queeg is so overcome by his indecisiveness that he orders the Caine away from, rather than toward, the beaches. It is unclear whether he is afflicted with a paralyzing form of obsessive-compulsive disorder or whether he is actually suffering from cowardice. But he convinces everyone that he is dangerously unfit for command when he orders that a yellow dye be dumped overboard to mark where he has separated the Caine from the landing craft that it has been assigned to shield. Relying on a casual knowledge of psychology, Tom Keefer has much earlier diagnosed Queeg as a neurotic who is inclined toward paranoia. He has even laid out the legal case for seizing command of the ship should Queeg become dangerously unstable. Another officer, Steve Maryk, who has been a commercial fisherman in civilian life, takes the more pragmatic approach of doc-

umenting all of Queeg’s idiosyncratic orders and actions. It is hard to tell with complete certainty whether Queeg’s apparent paranoia is actually a recognition of his junior officers’ willingness to mutiny or whether his paranoia is self-fulfilling, creating the response that seems to justify it. In any case, when the ship is caught in a typhoon in the Philippine Sea and Queeg begins to furiously issue incoherent and even contradictory orders, the mutiny, led by Maryk but supported by Keefer and Keith, does occur. Of course, Maryk faces a court-martial after the ship comes to port. As the case is prepared, Queeg gets enough rest away from the stress of command to recover his composure. In fact, the case seems to be leaning much in his favor when naval psychiatrists examine him and find him of sound mind and capable of sound judgments. But Maryk’s lawyer is a young Jewish aviator named Barney Greenwald who understands intuitively how irritating Queeg in small increments will eventually cause him to exhibit the sort of rash behavior that led to the mutiny. Greenwald eventually provokes an outburst from Queeg that saves the careers of Maryk, Keefer, and Keith. But, following that climactic scene, Wouk provides a denouement that radically changes the thematic direction of the novel. For, when Greenwald joins the celebration being thrown by the Caine’s officers, he creates considerable consternation by asserting that Queeg, not they, represent the best hope against fascism. Many of Greenwald’s relatives have suffered and perished at the hands of the Nazis, and given the scope of the threat posed by fascism, Queeg’s long military service, his demonstrated commitment to the defense of American values and human freedoms, weighs more, Greenwald argues, than his eccentricities, regardless of how much they may have endangered a particular crew. The military has ultimately not protected one of its own, and it has thereby endangered itself and undermined the war effort. Although Greenwald has clearly been drinking before joining the officers’ celebration, his self-doubt about what they have accomplished by ruining Queeg resonates just enough to make the resolution of the case a more profound issue than that addressed in court, an issue that cannot be resolved by adjudication.


The novel was adapted to a very successfully staged courtroom drama titled “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial,” and it was then adapted to film as simply “The Caine Mutiny,” with Humphrey Bogart providing a riveting performance as Queeg.

SOURCES Beichman, Arnold. Herman Wouk: The Novelist as Social Historian. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 2004. Clurman, Harold, and William Appleman Williams. “The Mutiny That’s Raising Cain,” Nation, March 1954, pp. 260–261. Geisnar, Maxwell. “The Age of Wouk,” Nation, November 1955, pp. 399–400. Goertschacher, Wolfgang, and Holger Klein, eds. Krieg auf der Buhne, 369–387. Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 1997. Shapiro, Edward. “The Jew as Patriot: Herman Wouk and American Jewish Identity,” American Jewish History 84 (December 1996): 333–351. Steele, John. “Novel,” American Heritage 51 (May/June 2000): 72. Wouk, Herman. The Caine Mutiny. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1951. Martin Kich

CALDWELL, ERSKINE (PRESTON) (1903–1987) At one time published in the pages of Scribner’s magazine alongside Ernest HEMINGWAY, F. Scott FITZGERALD, and William FAULKNER, Erkine Caldwell peaked, ebbed, nearly disappeared, and has now returned to the lists of writers of significant American novels. He remains controversial as we enter the 21st century, although his focus on the plight of the disadvantaged rural American, along with his distinctive gift of characterization and his ability to plot tales suspensefully, promises that today’s readers will remain interested in this prolific writer. Caldwell’s milieu was the South, and he has been compared to other southern writers like Ellen GLASGOW and Faulkner. All of them are concerned with the depleted earth and with memorable and often grotesque rural characters. On another level, however, he has been compared to John DOS PASSOS, Tillie OLSEN, and John STEINBECK in his veiled optimism for the fate of the proletarian, and, on still another, to D. H. Lawrence for his frank, almost spiritual presentation of sex as a liberating force.

Although his best-known novels remain TOBACCO ROAD (1922) and GOD’S LITTLE ACRE (1933), scholars are now studying other Caldwell novels: Trouble in July (1940), Georgia Boy (1943), and Tragic Ground (1944). Caldwell was born in 1902 in Newnan, Georgia, to the Reverend Ira Sylvester Caldwell, a preacher in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) Church, and Caroline Preston Bell, an instructor at the Women’s College and the daughter of a respected Virginia family. Although he became accustomed to moving frequently because of his father’s occupation, Caldwell also developed an awareness of the poor sharecroppers who lived along the tobacco roads where, in earlier times, hogsheads of tobacco had been rolled from the fields to the Savannah River. Although he attended the University of Virginia, Caldwell’s real inspiration seems to have stemmed more from such acquaintances as Margaret MITCHELL, with whom he worked on the Atlanta Journal in 1925, and from his sheer love of reading and his disciplined self-apprenticeship to the writer’s craft. He lived a reclusive life in Maine for three years, publishing two novelettes (The Bastard [1929] and Poor Fool [1930]) with small presses and placing stories in some of the small literary magazines that published Langston HUGHES, Gertrude STEIN, and William Carlos WILLIAMS. His breakthrough came in 1930 when Maxwell Perkins, editor in chief at Scribner’s, published two of Caldwell’s stories, and in 1931, published American Earth, a collection of Caldwell’s stories. In 1932, Perkins accepted Tobacco Road for publication, and in what would continue to be one of Caldwell’s most significant strengths, his portrayal of southern poverty appears in this novel in sharp focus. One of his real contributions to American fiction, moreover, is Jeter Lester, a comic-grotesque character who is a cotton farmer. Too poor during the depression years to buy seed or fertilizer for his crops, Jeter seeks—but does not find—solace in his 18-year-old harelipped daughter, Ellie May, and his 16-year-old son, Dude, two of his 17 children. He lives in squalor with Ada, whom he married when she was 11 years old, with his mother, and with Dude’s wife, Bessie Rice, a hypocritical preacher woman. The fire set to burn his own fields is the fire that ultimately burns Jeter and Ada in their cabin. Caldwell’s blending of the comic with the tragic


produces curiously effective results, and Tobacco Road, forever linked with his name, captured the imagination of the American reading public. In the words of scholar James Devlin, the novel was the first example of Caldwell’s ability to write about the poor, engaging the reader’s interest without depending on their empathy, so that they “might concentrate more objectively on the problems they presented” (Devlin, 5). Caldwell’s long career of writing long and short fiction and nonfiction about the problems of the poor earned him election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1984. He married four times: Helen Lannigan, daughter of a University of Virginia athletic instructor, in 1925; Margaret Bourke-White, the photographer with whom he collaborated on several photoessay books, notably the Great Depression–era You Have Seen Their Faces (1937); June Johnson, in 1942; and Virginia Fletcher. Erskine Caldwell invented the term “tobacco road,” and it has permanently entered the American lexicon, connoting images of poor white rural southerners. When he died on April 11, 1987, his reputation as a chronicler of the rural poor was just beginning to grow. After his death from lung cancer, he was cremated; the repository for his ashes is in Ashland, Oregon. The Erskine Caldwell Collection at Baker Library, Dartmouth College, comprises the most extensive collection of Caldwell’s papers.

NOVELS American Earth. New York: Scribner, 1931. The Bastard. New York: Heron Press, 1929. Georgia Boy. New York: Duell, Sloane and Pearce, 1943. God’s Little Acre. New York: Viking, 1933. Poor Fool. New York: Rariora Press, 1930. The Sacrilege of Alan Kent. Portland, Maine: Falmouth Book House, 1936. Tobacco Road. New York: Scribner, 1932.

SOURCES Arnold, Edwin T., ed. Erskine Caldwell Reconsidered. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1990. Cook, Sylvia Jenkins. Erskine Caldwell and the Fiction of Poverty: The Flesh and the Spirit. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991. Caldwell, Erskine. Call It Experience: The Years of Learning How to Write. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1951. Devlin, James E. Caldwell. Boston: Twayne, 1984.

Gossett, Louise Y. Violence in Recent Southern Fiction. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1965. Hoag, Ronald Wesley. “Erskine Caldwell.” In Fifty Southern Writers After 1900, edited by Joseph M. Flora and Robert Bain. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1987. Klevar, Harvey L. Erskine Caldwell: A Biography. Nashville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993. Korges, James. Erskine Caldwell. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1969. MacDonald, Scott, ed. Critical Essays on Erskine Caldwell. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981. Miller, Dan B. Erskine Caldwell: The Journey from Tobacco Road. New York: Random House, 1998. Mixon, Wayne. The People’s Writer: Erskine Caldwell and the South. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995. Sutton, William A. Black Like It Is/Was: Caldwell’s Treatment of Racial Themes. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1974.

CALISHER, HORTENSE (1911– ) Author of 14 novels, numerous novellas and short stories, and two memoirs, Hortense Calisher has been awarded a 1989 National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award, earned three National Book Award nominations and four O. Henry Awards. Her short fiction is more acclaimed than her novels, but in any case she is considered “a writer’s writer.” Calisher’s novels are notable for their psychologically rich portrayals of characters from ordinary backgrounds; they can realize themselves as individuals by facing and then shedding their pasts. Often sorrowful or despairing, they grapple with demons and are usually optimistic by the novel’s end. Hortense Calisher was born on December 20, 1911, in New York City, to Joseph Calisher and Hedwig Lichtstern Calisher. Her father, born during the Civil War and originally from Richmond, Virginia, moved to New York, became a soap and perfume manufacturer, and married a German immigrant 22 years his junior; Calisher has frequently commented on this unique background and its strong influence on her writing. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College in 1932, married Heaton Bennet Heffelfinger, an engineer, in 1935, and published her first story in the New Yorker in 1948. After divorcing Heffelfinger she married Curtish Harnack, a writer, in 1959, and published her first novel, False Entry, in 1961. It won the National


Book Award. It is an unusual love story between a middle-aged encyclopedia compiler and Ruth Mannix, the daughter of a judge. By rejecting his penchant for using the past rather than the present to gain “false entry” into others’ lives, he carves out his own identity, sees the potential of love between himself and Ruth, and commits himself to love, the present, and the future, thereby genuinely entering her life. Textures of Life (1963) depicts a rebellious young couple, David and Liz, who must reinvent themselves in order to succeed at marriage and parenthood. Journal from Ellipsia (1965), a radical departure for Calisher, features Janice Jamison, a young anthropologist who leaves her laboratory for the perfect planet of Ellipsia. One of its inhabitants, Eli the ellipsoid, wants to experience the tribulations of the inhabitants of Earth. The Railway Police, and The Last Trolley Ride, novellas published together in 1966, include the Kafkaesque story of a bald-headed and brilliant social worker who learns to accept herself as she is; readers see it as an allegory for becoming a writer. The second story takes place in upstate New York as a grandson recalls the lives of his 80-year-old grandfathers, both named Jim. In 1969 Calisher published The New Yorkers, her most critically acclaimed novel; it tells the story of Ruth Mannix (of False Entry), who, at age 12, murdered her mother, after discovering her in bed with a lover. Queenie (1971) and Eagle Eye (1973) are companion novels that respond to the upheavals of the 1960s: Queenie speaks from the perspective of innocence, while Bunty Bronstein, who avoided the Vietnam War draft, begins life anew with a computer in California. Standard Dreaming (1972), one of Calisher’s best novellas, explores with plastic surgeon Dr. Berners the possibility that certain corrupt youth of the 1960s caused their own problems; the parents were not, as was the popular theory, the major cause of dysfunction. In 1977 Calisher published On Keeping Women, a feminist novel in which Lexie, the main character, attempts to overcome her unhappiness at the menial tasks assigned to the modern wife and mother, and to understand and redefine herself. In The Bobby-Soxer (1986) a young woman examines her external and internal ambiguities when she revisits the provincial geography of her childhood, while Age

(1987), written in diary form, conveys the ability to assimilate memories while continuing to grow with age. Her 1997 novel In the Slammer with Carol Smith demonstrates the dual needs of one woman, jailed for a botched bombing in her radical 1970s student days. Free from prison, she understands that she needs solitude as well as closeness with others. In the Palace of the Movie King (1993) focuses on issues of dislocation and loss. Filmmaker Paul Gonchev, an immigrant, was born to Russian parents, reared in Japan, and now makes travel documentaries in Albania. Although he achieves fame after his immigration to the United States, he is alienated in the new country and longs for the old. Calisher’s most recent novel, Sunday Jews (2002), published at age 90, demonstrates the long assimilation process of 60-something Zipporah Zangwill, married to the lapsed Catholic Peter Duffy, as they recall their memories and analyze their five children whom they visit each Sunday. Hortense Calisher’s canvas is a broad one. Whether she will ultimately be better known for her novels or for her short stories, she has chronicled myriad facets of 20th-century American life and has helped illuminate the psyches of ordinary folk. She lives in New York City.

NOVELS AND NOVELLAS Age. New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1987. The Bobby-Soxer. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1986. Eagle Eye. New York: Arbor House, 1973. False Entry. Boston: Little Brown, 1961. In the Palace of the Movie King. New York: Random House, 1993. In the Slammer with Carol Smith. New York: Marion Boyars, 1997. Journal from Ellipsia. Boston: Little Brown, 1965. Mysteries of Motion. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1983. The New Yorkers. Boston: Little Brown, 1969. The Novellas of Hortense Calisher. New York: Modern Library, 1997. On Keeping Women. New York: Arbor House, 1977. Queenie. New York: Arbor House, 1971. The Railway Police, and The Last Trolley Ride. Boston: Little Brown, 1966. The Small Bang (Jack Fenno, pseud.). New York: Random House, 1992. Standard Dreaming. New York: Arbor House, 1972.


Sunday Jews. New York: Harcourt, 2002. Textures of Life. Boston: Little Brown, 1963.

SOURCES Allen, Bruce. “Find Hortense,” Nation, 1 December 1997, pp. 34–36. Bader, Eleanor J. “The Triumph of Age,” Belles Lettres 4, no. 2 (Winter 1989) 7. Calisher, Hortense. “The Art of Fiction.” Interviewed by Allan Gurganus, Pamela McCordick, and Mona Simpson. Paris Review, no. 105 (Winter 1987): 157–187. Calisher, Hortense, with Gregory Fitz Gerald and Peter Marchant. “A Conversation with Hortense Calisher,” edited by Earl Ingersoll and Peter Marchant, Southwest Review 71, no. 2 (Spring 1986) 186–193. Cavell, Marcia. “Pondering a Family Mystery,” New Leader (June 16–30, 1986): 20. Drake, Sylvie. “Charting the Frontier Called Age,” Los Angeles Times Book Review, 13 December 1987, p. 11. Hahn, Emily. “In Appreciation of Hortense Calisher,” Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature 6, no. 2 (Summer 1965): 243–249. Johnson, Lucy. “High Polish,” The Progressive 26, no. 1 (January 1962): 49–50. Kiely, Robert. “On the Subject of Love,” Nation, May 25, 1963, pp. 447–448. King, Francis. “What a Marvel!,” Spectator, May 25, 1996, pp. 32–34. Krim, Seymour. “Friends for Life: A Writer Remembers,” Washington Post Book World, 8 January 1989, p. 7. Longley, Edna. “Pilgrim Mothers.” Partisan Review 47, no. 2 (1980): 308–313. See, Carolyn. “Lights, Camera, Confusion,” Washington Post Book World, 11 February 1994, p. 2. Snodgrass, Kathleen. The Fiction of Hortense Calisher. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1993. ———. “On Hortense Calisher,” Iowa Review 24, no. 3 (Fall 1994) 185–187. Yuenger, James. “Age: Laying Bare Life’s Fears, Triumphs,” Chicago Tribune Books, 6 October 1987, p. 3.


Henry ROTH’s autobiographical first novel Call It Sleep (1934) has come to be recognized as one of the most poignant and honest depictions of immigrant, specifically Jewish immigrant, life in all of American literature. Its account of living conditions in poor neighborhoods, the pressures of assimilation and the difficulties of working conditions and maintaining employment read at times

like a work of ethnography. At the same time the book offers a compelling and often disturbing psychological portrait of the traumas of childhood and the everyday tyrannies of family life. These experiences are heightened by their reflection in the eyes of a young boy, the protagonist David Schearl, who is caught in the interplay of cultures, none of which he really understands. From the perspective of this imaginative and perceptive young boy Roth’s lyrical work evokes the struggles, including the inner ones, facing recent immigrants in America during the period of the country’s greatest influx of migrants. Call It Sleep relates the experiences of David Schearl, a young child who, like Roth himself, was born in what was then territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before emigrating with his mother to America to be reunited with his father. Starting in 1907 the novel follows, over several years, David’s activities and, more important, his feelings as he and his family grapple with the unfamiliar and often hostile realities of life in the poor and working-class immigrant neighborhoods of New York. Throughout, young David is caught painfully, not only between his family’s Jewish culture and the culture of mainstream America, but also between his love for his protective and sheltering mother and his hatred for his violent and overbearing father. To avoid the wrath of his father, as well as to discover his place in relation to the other immigrant children, David turns to the streets, where he encounters profanity, sexuality, neighborhood gangs, and anti-Semitism. When the novel was first released in 1934 it received passing notice, elevated for a moment as part of the emerging genre of proletarian fiction that was garnering some attention as the deepening slump of the Great Depression gave rise to social movements giving voice to the concerns of working-class people and putting forward demands for socioeconomic reform. The depression, however, also claimed Roth’s work among its victims, and when his publisher went bankrupt the book went out of print and was quickly forgotten. Despite Roth’s committed membership in the Communist Party, which he joined in 1933, the novel was dismissed by the major leftist journal, New Masses, for its supposed dilution of working-class experience into introspection. Leftist critics condemned the book for a


variety of perceived faults ranging from a supposed preoccupation with sexual neuroses to its unbridled impressionist flourishes. Roth’s emphasis on linguistic innovations and his concern with characters’ psychological development led Leftist commentators at the time of the novel’s release to overlook its significant, if subtle, social criticism. At the same time Call It Sleep did find some significant supporters among the Left. The noted literary theorist Kenneth Burke argued in New Masses that communist critics should pay special attention to Roth’s book since it dealt with the psychological phenomena of orientation and rebirth that have been central to communist concerns with the development of new meanings and new consciousness among people. Burke also attempted to situate Call It Sleep as a fluent and sympathetic expression of the prepolitical thinking of childhood rather than a statement of a mature, class-conscious adult. Indeed, as a work of proletarian fiction, Call It Sleep moves beyond the general considerations of the genre adding unique concerns to the more recognizable focus on the sufferings and strivings of the working class. At the same time it might be noted that Burke’s defense of Call It Sleep made no attempt to examine, or even to mention, the book’s grounding in Jewish immigrant experiences. This was in fact typical of most reviews at the time of the book’s release. One must recall that Roth’s novel was written during a period when the combined effects of the depression and rising anti-Semitism in the U.S. had severely impacted Jewish communities. Jewish immigrants were faced with employers who refused to hire them and landlords and landowners who refused to rent or sell housing. Roth was among the generation of American Jewish writers of the 1930s who, as active socialists, viewed their Jewishness through a secular lens. Socialism, not religion, offered the necessary response to the problems facing Jewish immigrants in capitalist America. Thus, Call It Sleep expresses a complex relationship between Jewish identity and traditions, identified especially through Davey’s mother and aunt, and Davey’s own rebellious imagination amid the material struggles of life in the Lower East Side. This is expressed most forcefully in Roth’s compelling shifts of language, con-

trasting the Yiddish spoken, and translated into a precise, even elegant, English, and the profane and fractured English spoken in the streets. The failure to examine or even to acknowledge the contexts of Jewish heritage, either for the author or his novel’s protagonists, suggests the limits of Leftist criticism and the limited framework within which proletarian literature was viewed. In Call It Sleep Roth expanded the form of proletarian writing, situating working-class concerns within the specific cultural, religious, or ethnic experiences through which workingpeople actually live, and contemplate, their lives. In doing so the author slipped the bounds of economistic approaches to class or class consciousness that were predominant among much of Leftist criticism of the 1930s. In light of the Left’s generally unfavorable response to Call It Sleep Roth attempted a second novel, another autobiographical work intended this time to please the Communist Party, to which he was deeply committed. Finding himself unable to write a more characteristic proletarian novel he soon destroyed the work and in the 1940s burned his journals and manuscripts altogether. Following the release of Call It Sleep, Roth suffered one of the most prolonged periods of writer’s block experienced by any first-rate author. Almost 60 years passed before his second novel, A Star Shines over Mt. Morris Park, the first volume of his Mercy of a Rude Stream quartet of novels, was published in the 1990s. In the intervening period, Roth’s first novel experienced a remarkable rebirth. In 1956, The American Scholar listed Call It Sleep among “The Most Neglected Books of the Past 25 Years.” In 1960 the book was republished in hardcover, and by 1964, a paperback edition was finally released. The paperback edition became the first paperback to be reviewed on the front page of the New York Review of Books. Nearly 30 years after the release of Call It Sleep, both the book and its author enjoyed a positive reappraisal in the literary world. With the novel’s re-release in the 1960s, at a time when many critics were becoming more interested in examining and expressing ethnic experiences and identities, Call It Sleep came to be regarded as a significant expression of Jewish-American literature. Since then it has taken a key place among courses on American Jewish literature. More recently Leftist critics


have also come to recognize Call It Sleep as among the finest and most enduring examples of the proletarian novel. Roth’s novel had long been forgotten or dismissed along with other works of so-called proletarian fiction from the 1930s. In recent years, however, the literature of the thirties has been subjected to a critical revaluation which has revived interest in a number of long-overlooked 1930s writers. Call It Sleep is a late-regarded literary classic. A complex work, it has found favor among a diverse readership including, but by no means limited to, students of working-class fiction and Jewish-American literature. Yet it is a rich and challenging work that overflows any easy categorization. It is a work that, through an innovative use of language and psychological insights, examines the intricacies of ethnicity and class, reminding us that these are always interconnected.

SOURCE Roth, Henry. Call It Sleep. New York: Ballou, 1934. Jeff Shantz

CALL OF THE WILD, THE JACK LONDON (1903) The Call of the Wild is a fabulous version of the young adult adventure story (including brave animals, Indians, a contest, etc.), and it is also a sophisticated exploration of the roles of Nature in shaping destiny in a naturalistic, deterministic, and transcendentalist sense. The style in which Jack LONDON wrote The Call of the Wild at first seems stereotypically masculine and precise in an overbearing way, but any grand tone is tempered by a stoic regard of humanity. The novel is enthusiastic throughout, and it is about transformation. The protagonist and only character the reader is allowed any firsthand insight into is the amazing husky, Buck. All other characters flit by as though swimming under the ice, their features never sharp, their motivations and emotions mostly related to the reader in sentence-long, omniscient, self-contained flashes—even these flashes usually in direct association to Buck: “Spitz, as lead-dog and acknowledged master of the team, felt his supremacy threatened by this strange Southland dog” (72). Buck is the center of everything. Because Buck is not a human being, he can be lent the objectivity reputedly taken on by the natu-

ralist writer. Buck’s objectivity is accentuated in turn by this outsider status, and through Buck London seeks to indoctrinate the reader in pure experience: At first step upon the cold surface, Buck’s feet sank into a white mushy something very like mud. He sprang back with a snort. More of this white stuff was falling through the air. He shook himself, but more of it fell upon him. He sniffed it curiously, then licked some up on his tongue. It bit like fire, and the next instant was gone. This puzzled him. He tried it again, with the same result. The onlookers laughed uproariously, and he felt ashamed, he knew not why, for it was his first snow. (54) It seems as though London’s motivation in this is to couple the transcendentalist worship of Nature with the allegiance to Science that characterizes much of his era. Buck is inextricable from his environment, from the natural stimuli that determine his evolving fate, but he still remains an objective observer—it is not that he is not without ego, but that his experiences are pure, instinctual, and unfettered. Thus, London garners flexibility. Because Buck presides over all events and circumstances in the novel, the heat is off: London can vacillate between omniscience, objectivity, unabashed melodrama (“Bellying forward to the edge of the clearing, he found Hans, lying on his face, feathered with arrows like a porcupine” [135]), and can overtly begin to philosophize—and all this as deemed necessary to move the characterization of Buck away from straight, inherently disingenuous anthropomorphism, or attributing human emotions to animals. London has accrued many entertaining tools with which to shift focus strategically. He also keeps men in the picture, though they are always transient (“And that was the last of Francois and Perrault. Like other men, they passed out of Buck’s life for good” [85]). This haziness, though, reinforces their connectedness to the environment—indeed, the human beings in The Call of the Wild are rarely more than stimuli—which again, allows London a certain stylistic flexibility. He capitalizes on this in order to indulge his enthusiasm and infatuation with natural


selection and the relatively fresh idea of placing humanity in evolutionary context. When Buck has primordial visions of “the hairy man sleeping by the fire, head between his knees and hands clasped above,” a man who “could spring up into the trees and travel ahead as fast as on the ground” (125), London is at his most exuberant. It is his sobriety that is his saving grace in the midst of this possible overenthusiasm—he has the striking insight that “(t)he salient thing of this other world seemed fear” (125). London is always mentioning qualities and traits; he condenses the evolutionary recurrences in the novel into separate learned behaviors, such as “The Law of Club and Fang” and doggedly points out the learning process: He [Buck] was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken. He saw, once for all, that he stood no chance against a man with a club. He had learned the lesson, and in all his after life he never forgot it. That club was a revelation. (51) So, while The Call of the Wild is an exemplar of Jack London’s dual fascination with natural science and transcendentalist ideas, it is almost about lineal transformation. There is growth in every chapter: “. . . it was a secret growth. His newborn cunning gave him poise and control” (65); “later his feet grew hard to the trail, and the worn-out footgear was thrown away” (71); “he was in full flower, at the high tide of his life, overspilling with vigor and virility” (130). London’s style reflects this consistent growth, utilizing his potboilerish format to pile on thick detail and description, primarily concerning dogs and landscape, thus engineering an entertaining building-up that is never without a summary action or payoff. In this way the progression of the men in the novel builds to the one Buck loves—“it was because of his great love for John Thornton that he lost his head” (135)—and then past him. This aesthetic of progression, of a slow but consistent and repeated blooming, is used by London to call attention away from dualism and to produce a refined adventure.

SOURCE London, Jack. ‘The Call of the Wild’, ‘White Fang’, and Other Stories. Edited by Andrew Sinclair. Penguin: New York, 1981. Jay Pluck


Peter Cameron, the author of four novels and three story collections, was first published when he was 26 years old. He is considered a minimalist who explores upheavals from wrecked marriages to dysfunctional families in the lives of ordinary people and is compared often to Ann BEATTLE, Raymond Carver, and Bobbie Ann MASON. Several of his stories have won O. Henry prizes. Cameron was born in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, to Donald O. Cameron, an economist, and Sally Shaw Cameron. Reared in the environs of New York City and, for several years, in London, where he attended The American School, Cameron completed his education at Hamilton College, receiving his bachelor of arts degree in 1982. Cameron moved to New York City and established himself as a careful chronicler of real-life dialogue and conversation. His first collection of short fiction, One Way or Another (1986) received widespread critical attention. Cameron’s first novel, Leap Year (1990), was serialize in the New York City magazine Seven Days throughout 1988, so it is peppered, of course, with witty allusions to New York City life. During the writing of this novel, Cameron volunteered with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, an organization devoted to gay rights and issues, where he still works. The Weekend (1994) has at its center the anniversary of the death of Tony, who died of AIDS, and a reunion of friends at the upstate New York estate of Tony’s half brother John and his wife, Marian. Cameron’s third novel, Andorra (1997), is set in an imaginary country and is, for the most part, a novel of deception, mystery, and, for Alexander Fox, unexpected disillusion. In City of Your Final Destination (2001), Cameron continues to use the foreign travel motif. Here a 28-year-old graduate student, Omar Razaghi, visits Uruguay at the urging of his girlfriend, Dierdre, to interview the family of deceased poet Jules Gund, about whom Omar is writing a biography. His interaction with Gund’s widow, Caroline, mistress Arden, and brother Adam, who refuse to cooperate on the book, reveals Cameron’s ever-present sense of humor as well as his increasing compassion for human foibles. Peter Cameron lives in Manhattan’s West Village, where he continues to write. He is much respected by fellow writers and critics of contemporary fiction.


NOVELS Andorra. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux: 1997. City of Your Final Destination. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001. Leap Year. New York: Harper, 1990. The Weekend. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1994.

SOURCES Brown, Rosellen. “The Emperor’s New Fiction,” Boston Review (August 1986): 7–8. Gambone, Philip. Something Inside: Conversations with Gay Fiction Writers, 284–300. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999. Leavitt, David. “New Voices and Old Values,” New York Times Book Review, 12 May 1985, p. 1. Weber, Myles. “When a Risk Group Is Not a Risk Group: The Absence of AIDS Panic in Peter Cameron’s Fiction,” in AIDS—The Literary Response, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson, 69–75. New York: Twayne, 1992.

CAMPBELL, BEBE MOORE (1950– ) Bebe Moore Campbell is the author of four acclaimed novels, more than 100 journal and magazine articles, and a popular memoir, Sweet Summer: Growing Up with and without My Dad (1989). Her novels focus directly on racial, class, and gender issues, and her first novel, Your Blues Ain’t like Mine (1992), which won the NAACP Image Award for literature and appeared on the New York Times Notable Book list, was based on the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. Similarly Brothers and Sisters (1994) explores the tensions that led to the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles and quickly appeared on the New York Times best-seller list; Singing in the Comeback Choir (1998), based on Campbell’s life, iterates the themes of responsibility and healing; and What You Owe Me (2001) is about friendship, betrayal, and recovery. Campbell has been forthright and even outspoken about her beliefs and literary aims. In an interview with Martha Satz, she says that she is “an integrationist” rather than “a separatist.” Convinced that her “ancestors have invested too much” in the United States to promote divisiveness, she believes that “our strengths lie in saluting our differences and getting along. African-Americans need to begin to look really closely and make some movement toward changing the problems we have in our community. A lot of situations we find ourselves in have to do with

institutionalized racism in America. And a lot have to do with the way we make choices” (Satz, 195). Bebe Moore Campbell was born in 1950, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to George Linwood Peter Moore, county farm agent and restaurant owner, and Doris Moore, a social worker. Her parents were both collegeeducated: her mother had earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and her father had attended North Carolina Agriculture and Technical College. When Campbell was an infant, an automobile accident left her father a paraplegic; her parents divorced. She spent her summers with him in North Carolina, gaining a perspective on the South. She received her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971, then studied with Toni Cade BAMBARA, who stimulated her interest in writing. In her first novel, Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, 15year-old Armstrong Todd is murdered in rural Mississippi. Although the novel explores the relationships and motivations of both blacks and whites, it ends with the impossibility of a marriage between the black Marguerite and the white Clayton. Brothers and Sisters focuses on Esther Jackson, a black bank manager and her white female colleague Mallory Post. With the Rodney King incident as backdrop, Esther helps Mallory relinquish her racist attitudes. In Campbell’s third novel, Singing in the Comeback Choir, Maxine McCoy returns to the Philadelphia community where she grew up, now a black neighborhood wrestling with drug pushers and dysfunction, and the general malaise of urban blight. Maxine helps the community and learns from her mentor, her 76-year-old grandmother Lindy Walker. What You Owe Me is (as Campbell has proclaimed about all her novels) concerned with healing, this time from the betrayal of one friend by another. It uses the unusual combination of two hotel maids, Holocaust survivor Gilda Rosenstein and her black friend, Hosanna Clark. Divorced from Tiko F. Campbell, Campbell married Ellis Gordon, Jr., in 1984. They live in Los Angeles, where she continues to write and to produce commentaries for National Public Radio.

NOVELS Brothers and Sisters. New York: Putnam, 1994. Singing in the Comeback Choir. New York: Putnam, 1998.


What You Owe Me. New York: Putnam, 2001. Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine. New York: Putnam, 1992.

SOURCES Campbell, Jane. “An Interview with Bebe Moore Campbell,” Callaloo: A Journal of African-American Arts and Letters 22 (Fall 1999): 954–972. Chambers, Veronica. “Bebe Moore Campbell and Joyce Carol Oates: An Interview,” New York Times Magazine, 25 December 1994, p. 6. Edgerton, Clyde. “Medicine for Broken Souls.” Review of Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, by Bebe Moore Campbell. New York Times, 20 September 1992, p. 332. Oates, Joyce Carol. “Which Counts More, Gender or Race?” New York Times Magazine, 25 December 1994, pp. 16–22. Russell-Robinson, Joyce. Contemporary African-American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographic Critical Sourcebook. Edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999, pp. 76–81. Satz, Martha. “I Hope I Can Teach a Little Bit: An Interview With Bebe Moore Campbell.” Southwest Review (Spring 1996): 195.

OTHER African-American Literature Book Club. “Bebe Moore Campbell.” Available online. URL: http://auth