James A. Michener: A Critical Companion

James A. Michener: A Critical Companion

James A. Michener: A Critical Companion

James A. Michener: A Critical Companion

Synopsis

In a career writing fiction that spans more than forty years, James A. Michener has refined the art of telling an engrossing story while presenting massive amounts of factual information. His narratives are characterized by an acute sense of place and important themes such as human tolerance, the relationship between human beings and their environment, and the value of human courage and hard work. This study is the first to assess and analyze his fictional work in more than ten years and discusses his recent fiction, as well as his important historical fiction. The work features a biographical chapter, an overview of his fictional works, and close, critical readings of nine of his most noted historical novels. An opening chapter discusses his life, including his childhood, education, travels, and the path that led him to become a premier storyteller. The overview chapter examines the characteristics of his fiction and general thematic concerns and offers brief consideration of the novels not analyzed in individual chapters. The remaining nine chapters focus on individual novels: The Fires of Spring, Hawaii, Centennial, Chesapeake, The Covenant, Space, Texas, Alaska, and Miracle in Seville. Each novel is analyzed for plot structure, characterization, and thematic elements. In addition, Severson defines and applies an alternative critical perspective from which to read each novel. A complete, up-to-date bibliography of Michener's fiction and a bibliography of reviews and criticism complete the work.

Excerpt

The authors who appear in the series Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers are all best-selling writers. They do not have only one successful novel, but a string of them. Fans, critics, and specialist readers eagerly anticipate their next book. For some, high cash advances and breakthrough sales figures are automatic; movie deals often follow. Some writers become household names, recognized by almost everyone.

But novels are read one by one. Each reader chooses to start and, more importantly, to finish a book because of what she or he finds there. The real test of a novel is in the satisfaction its readers experience. This series acknowledges the extraordinary involvement of readers and writers in creating a best-seller.

The authors included in this series were chosen by an Advisory Board composed of high school English teachers and high school and public librarians. They ranked a list of best-selling writers according to their popularity among different groups of readers. Writers in the top-ranked group who had not received book-length, academic literary analysis (or none in at least the past ten years) were chosen for the series. Because of this selection method, Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers meets a need that is not addressed elsewhere.

The volumes in the series are written by scholars with particular expertise in analyzing popular fiction. These specialists add an aca-

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