Synopses & Reviews
In this provocative study, Susan Mizruchi argues that the act of writing history is the key to the political concerns of American novelists. Using nineteenth-century theories of history as well as recent narratological models, she examines reconstructions of the past in The House of the Seven Gables (1851), The Bostonians (1886), The Wings of the Dove (1902), and An American Tragedy (1925). Her special focus allows us to see that the efforts (on the part of characters and narrators alike) to reshape the past reveal both anxieties about the self and larger struggles for political power.
Professor Mizruchi demonstrates the deepening connections between narrative and political coercion from Hawthorne to Dreiser, whose novels (as she further shows) both incorporate, and portray their characters incorporating, the conditions of their contemporary worlds. Her argument addresses a major contemporary dialogue on the subversive qualities of American texts and the place of history in literary interpretation.
Originally published in 1988.
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