A Sourcebook of American Literary Journalism: Representative Writers in an Emerging Genre

A Sourcebook of American Literary Journalism: Representative Writers in an Emerging Genre

A Sourcebook of American Literary Journalism: Representative Writers in an Emerging Genre

A Sourcebook of American Literary Journalism: Representative Writers in an Emerging Genre

Synopsis

..."This book promises to be a useful reference source and would be a welcome addition to public and high school libraries....The book's focus makes it unique..." Booklist

Excerpt

It has been almost twenty years since Tom Wolfe attempted to define what came to be called "new journalism," a type of writing that he said combined the information-gathering methods of journalistic reporting with the narrative techniques of realistic fiction. In Wolfe's self-serving discussion of the new journalism, he grudgingly agreed that there were probably a few precursors to the form (Wolfe 1973, 45-46). But Wolfe refused to acknowledge the possibility that the form he described had a history or tradition, or that it was less restrictive in style and function than he claimed.

Since then, most critics who have analyzed the style and impact of the new journalism have at least mentioned precursors, and some have even suggested the possibility of a tradition. But a larger context has been either ignored or explored only fleetingly. No one has attempted to show that over time a body of writing exists that does not neatly conform to our common literary taxonomy, a body of writing that shares enough significant characteristics that it can be treated as a distinct form or genre.

This book brings together for the first time discussion of a wide range of writers who are treated as part of an ongoing, largely unrecognized American prose tradition, that of literary journalism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Such writing is not "new" journalism, therefore simply a type of journalism, nor is it "factual" fiction, merely a type of realistic fiction. Rather, it is a distinct literary form, a type of cultural expression that can be defined and characterized. The new journalism is treated here as a part of that tradition and not as literary expression particular to a time.

The literary journalism considered in this book covers a period that begins with Mark Twain and concludes with the present day. This should not imply that literary journalism was suddenly born with Twain. Generally, however, when critics cite antecedents for new journalism before Twain, they provide British examples and specifically writing by Daniel Defoe . . .

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