Brown University

The Dream of the Great American Novel

by Lawrence Buell
Belknap Press/Harvard, February 2014   ISBN: 978-067405115-7
Price: $39.95

"The idea of 'the great American novel' continues to thrive almost as vigorously as in its nineteenth-century heyday, defying 150 years of attempts to dismiss it as amateurish or obsolete.  In this landmark book, the first in many years to take in the whole sweep of national fiction, LawrenceBuell reanimates this supposedly antiquated idea, demonstrating that its history is a key to the dynamics of national literature and national identity itself…The dream of the G.A.N., as Henry James nicknamed it, crystallized soon after the Civil War.  In fresh, in-depth readings of selected contenders from the 1850s onward in conversation with hundreds of other novels, Buell delineates four 'scripts' for G.A.N. candidates…The canvas of the great American novel is in constant motion, reflecting revolutions in fictional fashion, the changing face of authorship, and the inseparability of high culture from popular.  As Buell reveals, the elusive G.A.N. showcases the myth of the United States as a nation perpetually under construction."--publisher description

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