Love and Death in the American Novel

Love and Death in the American Novel

Love and Death in the American Novel

Love and Death in the American Novel

Excerpt

Rereading Love and Death in the American Novel ten years after the moment at which I first began to set it down, I have been delighted and astonished to discover that I still believe what it says. The voice which speaks in its pages I no longer recognize as quite my own, but I find it a sympathetic one -- for all its exclamatory and insistent tone. Like others, I have now grown so used to what was new and daring in its theses once, that I am sometimes annoyed at how hard it presses or how pleased it seems with its own insights. "But we all accept these contentions," I am tempted to cry. "This is where we now begin." Yet for old times' sake, I have not willingly surrendered more than a few exclamation points, strategic capitalizations, or italicized word.

In preparing a new edition I have, therefore, not tampered with the language or the style of the original, only everywhere pruned and condensed, out of a sense that the first version was somehow too thickly allusive, with too many asides, too intent on overwhelming the sceptical to suit the needs of readers a decade later.

I have, moreover, worked back into the main body of the text certain detailed analyses of The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, and Huckleberry Finn, originally consigned to a kind of appendix called "Accommodation and Transcendence." I have done this first of all because I believe that is where they best fit, but also because I have a hunch that some readers of the earlier edition never reached them at all -- and they are of critical importance to the total meaning of my book.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.