AMERICAN MODERNS: From Rebellion to Conformity by Maxwell Geismar

AMERICAN MODERNS: From Rebellion to Conformity

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This book is decidedly a useful compendium of information about the modern American writers from Hemingway and Dos Passos and Faulkner, through Herman Wouk, Norman Mailer, Nelson Algren and Cozzens, down to Styron, James Jones and John Howard Griffin. About two thirds of these essays have already been printed- chiefly in the Saturday Review- but the remaining third were written especially for this book. With his usual tolerant and humanistic view, Mr. Geismar has something good to say of all of these writers. Of the latest ones, who have created the news barbarism, he makes one good point--- these writers' faults and virtues have all been created by World War II and its aftermath and they reflect the brutality of that experience. Giving due consideration to his latitudinarianism, one wonders if Mr. Geismar has not done American literature a disservice by considering these blown-up best sellers as coming within the definition of literature at all. Many will feel that their illiteracy, their depravity, their over-expanded obscenity, their wordiness, deprive them of the right of serious consideration although they are representative of the American Moderns. In any case, Mr. Gelsmar will have provided controversial material for discussion, literature- study groups as a background to what America has been and is reading. Have a look at the report on the Edmund Fuller (p. 216) for a more pungent angle.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1958
Publisher: Hill & Want