Pagan Dreiser: Songs from American Mythology

Synopsis

"The purpose of this investigation is threefold: first, to explicate Dreiser's passing allusions to Greek myth and literature; second, to explore some of his less obvious but more important structural, conceptual, and philosophical debts to the Greeks; third, to elucidate how this "pagan" point of view helps untangle many of the traditional, knotty problems of Dreiser scholarship. St. Jean operates from a central assumption: that a late-twentieth-century critical viewpoint, even when buttressed by formidable knowledge of American and European literary history, is finally insufficient for a fair appraisal of Dreiser's canon if unaccompanied by some understanding of the author's (often highly romanticized) debt to "paganism."" "The study does not proceed according to the traditional, chronological method of chapter-per-novel, but instead in four intertextual, subject-based chapters: first, a reappraisal of Dreiser's status as a literary naturalist and his place in literary history; second, a reading of his often-overlooked and subversive mode of social criticism; third, a reconciliation of his controversial perspectives on gender and sexuality; and, finally, an accounting of his attitudes toward religion as mythology and a discussion of the canon of American authors as a self-construed pantheon, with Dreiser as an aspiring member." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved