John Gardner: Critical Perspectives

John Gardner: Critical Perspectives

John Gardner: Critical Perspectives

John Gardner: Critical Perspectives


"I hope they're interesting, I hope not more interesting than the fiction," says John Gardner in his Afterword to these twelve essays that probe deeply into each of his major novels, his epic poem, his children's stories, and his work as a librettist.

Contents include: " Et in Arcadia Ego: Gardner's Early Novels" by David Cowart; " Into the Farther Darkness': The Manichaean Pastoralism of John Gardner" by Samuel Coale; "A Babylonian in Batavia: Mesopotamian Literature and Lore in The Sunlight Dialogues "by Greg Morris; and " Grendel and Blake: The Contraries of Existence" by Helen B. Ellis and Warren U. Ober.

"John Gardner's Grendel "by Jerome Klinkowitz; "Survival and Redemptive Vision in Jason and Medeia "by John Trimbur; "Sailing Through The King's Indian with John Gardner and His Friends" by Donald J. Greiner; "Modern Moralities for Children: John Gardner's Children's Books" by Geraldine DeLuca and Roni Natov.

"John Gardner, Librettist: A Composer's Notes" by Joseph Baber; "The Real Monster in Freddy's Book "by Walter Cummins; "Magical Prisons: Embedded Structures in the Work of John Gardner" by Kathryn Van Spanckeren; and "New Fiction, Popular Fiction, and John Gardner's Middle/Moral Way" by Robert A. Morace.


As opinions are most informative when one knows their source, the following remarks are offered in the hope that this book will be more useful if its history and intent are clear. the present volume grew out of the 1979 Northeast Modern Language Association session on Twentieth Century American Literature. I chaired the session, and I had invited John Gardner to read, as he was the featured novelist on that occasion; two of the critical papers to be presented discussed his work. (One of them, by Robert Morace, my coeditor, has been greatly expanded for this book).

John Gardner arrived after the papers had concluded and, after chatting over wine and martinis in our crowded rooms at the Hartford Sheraton, he settled into an easy chair and proceeded to read movingly from his work, choosing the story Amarand, subsequently changed to Nimram and published in The Atlantic (September 1979). He had driven his motorcycle and flown most of the night to get there from his parents' home in Batavia and he looked tired, but when he began to read the fatigue vanished. the mainly young professorial audience sat on the beds or floor to listen. Gardner was kind enough to answer many questions at length afterwards. On Moral Fiction had just come out, and the feature in the New York Times Magazine was shortly to be published: we felt that Gardner was eager to be understood and to convey his views. He agreed to do the Afterword for our book, and he stayed up into the small hours cheerfully debating literary questions with irreverent young writers and aestheticians (when taxed with being a literary throwback, he exhorted them to read The King's Indian).

Not once did Gardner mention something painfully apparent to me -- that he had given up at least two writing days to come and address us, his fellow academicians, potential critics, and audience, completely at his own expense. As he remarked later, though he normally doesn't set foot out his door for less than $1,500 a reading, in this case he even arranged to pay for his travel, knowing that we had no funds. and he had no hope of gain; the present . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


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.