Twenty-five Books That Shaped America: How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity
Thomas C. Foster
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
From the author of the New York Times bestselling How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes a highly entertaining and informative new book on the twenty-five works of literature that have most shaped the American character. Foster applies his much-loved combination of wit, know-how, and analysis to explain how each work has shaped our very existence as readers, students, teachers, and Americans.
Foster illuminates how books such as The Last of the Mohicans, Moby-Dick, My Ántonia, The Great Gatsby, The Maltese Falcon, Their Eyes Were Watching God, On the Road, The Crying of Lot 49, and others captured an American moment, how they influenced our perception of nationhood and citizenship, and what about them endures in the American character. Twenty-five Books That Shaped America is a fun and enriching guide to America through its literature.
existentialist text because it isn’t. What it is, is a satire of contemporary America. The problem with most existentialist works is that they feel like dutiful embodiments of someone’s philosophical tract: absurdity, check; fear and trembling, check; nothingness, check. Pynchon, on the other hand, begins with an absurd situation (California circa 1964) and goes from there. If that happens to square with someone’s philosophy, so be it. In any event, his concerns are bigger than that. We’re all
faults, we do sometimes aspire to be more open, more accepting, better. What’s most remarkable is that such pairs got their start during a thoroughly racist period in our history, although there have been more of those eras than the other sort, so maybe it’s not so surprising. And here’s another gift the book gives to the country. It, along with its companion titles, made Cooper the first professional author in our history. He sold a lot of books and, copyright being what it was(n’t) in those
implications, points to a very important feature of the novel. The great myth for the postwar writers is the wasteland, the formerly lovely earth beset by ruin and infertility. The most famous version, of course, is T. S. Eliot’s poem that changed everything. But there are lots of wastelands besides The Waste Land. Federico García Lorca’s play Blood Wedding is one famous example, and Gatsby, with its ash heaps and broken spirits, another. Hemingway visits this space numerous times, not least in
dialect, church rhythms of call-and-response, and nontraditional art forms, especially jazz and blues, to make his points, and even in his own time, dialect in particular was a ticklish subject. Familiarity has not always bred favor. But to return to the poem in question, the two words in the title are equally significant. The “I” is claiming its natural right to speak for itself, answering back not merely to Whitman’s poem cited above but to Whitman at large. Everywhere we look, it’s a song of
through the book and you’ll find the fish present in every scene that contains the Cat. He’s also there a couple of times when the Cat isn’t, but the reverse never happens. The fish is a scold and a drudge, but he’s also right. They’re not allowed to do the things the Cat does; their mother will be furious when she finds out. Why, they’re not even supposed to have a stranger in the house when she’s away, and now look at this mess, and there’s gonna be heck to pay, blah, blah, blah. One of the