Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Great American Novel

From: Letters to the Editor, The Times Literary Supplement (August 1, 2014), p. 6


Sarah Graham recounts Larence Buell's fourfold thematic classification of the Great American Novel: classic retellings, rags to riches, racial schisms, and grandiose themes. To these a fifth theme (or metatheme) could be added, exemplified by novels, novellas and short story collections that satirize the whole idea, with resonant titles such as The Great American Novel (1923) by William Carlos Williams, The Great American Novel (1938) by Clyde Brion Davis, The Great American Novel (1973) by Philip Roth, The Great American Novel  (2002) by Gary Mitchell, The Great American Novel (Short Twisted Tales Book 3) (2002) by George Francis Dickman, The Great American Novel: Or, random start (2004) by Eliot Stafford, The Great American Novel (2008) by Thomas A. Brewster,

The Great American Novel: A cynic's trip through God knows where (2008) by Porkchop Pan, The Great American Novel (2012) by Tiago Bonacho, and The Great American Novel (2013) by Ronnie Anderson, as well as Keith Malley's autobiography, titillatingly titled The Great American Novel (2000). Not to mention Son of The Great American Novel (1975) by James Fritzhand ..."

--J. K. Aronson, Green-Templeton College, Oxford

JB note: I would add to this insightful letter, if its author would allow me, the following (as a footnote?): "THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL [:] Did Norman Mailer live it instead?" By John R. Coyne Jr., American Spectator (December 2013). Also, the image to this entry might be of interest to Prof Aronson and his readers.

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