The Grotesque: An American Genre and Other Essays

The Grotesque: An American Genre and Other Essays

The Grotesque: An American Genre and Other Essays

The Grotesque: An American Genre and Other Essays

Excerpt

Introductions are frequently occasions for an author to move from self-explanation to self-justification. Therefore I shall try to be brief, in the hope that denying myself words will minimize my temptations.

The essay on the grotesque is new, although a few sentences in it are from a short article in College English. The Hawthorne Museum: A Dialogue is wholly new, as is the essay on Frost. There are changes and additions in most of the others. Although the various pieces have been written at different times, I believe the collection has a certain homogeneity, and that is one way to justify it. But there are other reasons too. One does not want to have certain articles lost in the files of magazines, or, in this case, to let two continue in the limbo of anonymity imposed by the Times Literary Supplement.

Critical tags sometimes claim too much. I hope I have not claimed too much for the term grotesque--nor on the other hand too little. Further investigations of the concepts suggested could of course lead to insights and formulations that have eluded me. I could iustify The Hawthorne Museum: A Dialogue at some length, but I'll content myself by saying the dialogue, although rarely employed today, should not be abandoned.

A number of these pieces were done in 1953-54, when I was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Liège. It was this occasion, followed by a summer in England, that started me thinking about the American-ness of American literature. And that I suppose is the chief subject of this book.

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