Fiction 2

An American Type: A Novel by Henry Roth

By Henry Roth

“His early novel Call It Sleep was once his Ulysses. His overdue paintings An American Type is his Grapes of Wrath.”—Thane Rosenbaum, Los Angeles Times
This “glorious, evocative, literary novel for the ages” (Los Angeles Times) has eventually taken its position in the nice canon of yank fiction. Set throughout the nice melancholy, opposed to a backdrop of recent York’s glimmering skyscrapers and Los Angeles’s seedy motor courts, this autobiographical paintings concludes the unprecedented saga of Henry Roth, whose vintage Call It Sleep, released in 1934, went directly to develop into considered one of Time’s a hundred most sensible American novels of the 20 th century. With echoes of Nathanael West and John Steinbeck, An American Type is a heartrending assertion approximately American id and the common transcendence of affection.

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Extra resources for An American Type: A Novel

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A contrast between such proceedings has of course long existed unselfconsciously inside the huge realm of art. (MGM 90) Though many theorists of postmodernism – both ‘for’ and ‘against’ – would find little to disagree with in this description, it makes clear that the source of Murdoch’s critique of postmodern fiction is its rejection of the referential function. Novels which do this, however, are not typically postmodern. Critics who argue that postmodernism amounts to a break with modernism rather than a continuation of it hold that the most extreme experimental metafiction, which seeks to shatter the distinction between fiction and reality and is regarded by some as paradigmatic of postmodernism, is not in fact postmodern at all.

This suggests why, although her study of his work is marked from the start by a keen apprehension of its weaknesses, Murdoch retained an enduring admiration for Sartre. His work, she suggests, stands as ‘a last ditch attachment to the value of the individual’ (S 137) – a phrase which applies equally, of course, to her own. Her philosophy, one might say, starts with the understanding that the human subject is, in Heideggerian terms, ‘thrown’ into an absurd world, surrounded by the contingent otherness of people and objects which resist our attempts to bestow meaning on them.

It has been suggested that the modern age really begins with Romanticism, a period marked by an erosion of faith in the referential capacity of words and which thus bears an obvious affinity with the cultural concerns of the twentieth century. 5 The beginning and ending of this century are distinguished, as Henry Sussman has said, by ‘a firm sense, as firm as possible, of the linguistic constitution of reality, and the conceptual systems erected to qualify, modify, and contain it’ (Sussman 1990: 130).

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