A Dangerous Crossing: French Literary Existentialism and the Modern American Novel

A Dangerous Crossing: French Literary Existentialism and the Modern American Novel

A Dangerous Crossing: French Literary Existentialism and the Modern American Novel

A Dangerous Crossing: French Literary Existentialism and the Modern American Novel

Synopsis

While there has been a great deal written about the influence of French existentialism on modern fiction, Lehan's new book is strikingly different from other interpretations. With over twenty-five articles published on the topic, Lehan is an authority on the subject and an expert in American literature. He brings to this exciting new approach a knowledge and an awareness of the reciprocal influence of French philosophers and American novelists never before shown.

As he moves from Nietzsche's superman to Heller's functionaries, Lehan presents the complete chronology as well as the full spectacle of literary existentialism. Exceptionally well written, his book is especially valuable for the clear perspective he thus provides.

Excerpt

Richard Lehan's third book demonstrates how capable he is of continuing growth as a literary critic. In F. Scott Fitzgerald and his Craft of Fiction, published in this Crosscurrents / Modern Critiques series in 1966, Professor Lehan presented an in-depth study of one of America's most brilliant writers of fiction, a book which doesn't neglect to discuss Fitzgerald's weaker writing; altogether, the volume offers new perspectives on Fitzgerald and skillfully shows why his better work is so important. In Theodore Dreiser: His World and His Novels, published by Southern Illinois University Press, Dr. Lehan again dealt with an author who was made up of many contradictions; and once again Professor Lehan gave us a fine, full picture of a man and his career.

To say that those two books are highly significant contributions to the understanding of American literature is understatement; and now their author gives us a third book that reaches even beyond those predecessors. Its title suggests its range: A Dangerous Crossing: French Literary Existentialism and the Modern American Novel. Richard Lehan does more than develop the thesis to the effect that the postwar French novelists such as Sartre and Camus felt the influence of the American writers of the time, notably Dos Passos and Hemingway; for, after establishing this point, he goes on to show that there was, in the case of Mailer, Bellow, and others whom he examines, a reciprocal relationship and, further, he shows . . .

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