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Beyond Gatsby
Cover of Beyond Gatsby
Beyond Gatsby
How Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Writers of the 1920s Shaped American Culture
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Many of the heralded writers of the 20th century—including Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner—first made their mark in the 1920s, while established authors like Willa Cather and Sinclair Lewis produced some of their most important works during this period. Classic novels such as The Sun Also Rises, The Great Gatsby, Elmer Gantry, and The Sound and the Fury not only mark prodigious advances in American fiction, they show us the wonder, the struggle, and the promise of the American dream.
In Beyond Gatsby: How Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Writers of the 1920s Shaped American Culture, Robert McParland looks at the key contributions of this fertile period in literature. Rather than provide a compendium of details about major American writers, this book explores the culture that created F. Scott Fitzgerald and his literary contemporaries. The source material ranges from the minutes of reading circles and critical commentary in periodicals to the archives of writers' works—as well as the diaries, journals, and letters of common readers. This work reveals how the nation's fiction stimulated conversations of shared images and stories among a growing reading public.
Signifying a cultural shift in the aftermath of World War I, the collective works by these authors represent what many consider to be a golden age of American literature. By examining how these authors influenced the reading habits of a generation, Beyond Gatsby enables readers to gain a deeper comprehension of how literature shapes culture.
Many of the heralded writers of the 20th century—including Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner—first made their mark in the 1920s, while established authors like Willa Cather and Sinclair Lewis produced some of their most important works during this period. Classic novels such as The Sun Also Rises, The Great Gatsby, Elmer Gantry, and The Sound and the Fury not only mark prodigious advances in American fiction, they show us the wonder, the struggle, and the promise of the American dream.
In Beyond Gatsby: How Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Writers of the 1920s Shaped American Culture, Robert McParland looks at the key contributions of this fertile period in literature. Rather than provide a compendium of details about major American writers, this book explores the culture that created F. Scott Fitzgerald and his literary contemporaries. The source material ranges from the minutes of reading circles and critical commentary in periodicals to the archives of writers' works—as well as the diaries, journals, and letters of common readers. This work reveals how the nation's fiction stimulated conversations of shared images and stories among a growing reading public.
Signifying a cultural shift in the aftermath of World War I, the collective works by these authors represent what many consider to be a golden age of American literature. By examining how these authors influenced the reading habits of a generation, Beyond Gatsby enables readers to gain a deeper comprehension of how literature shapes culture.
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About the Author-
  • Robert McParland is associate professor of English and chair of the Department of English at Felician College. He is the editor of Music and Literary Modernism (2009) and Film and Literary Modernism (2013) and the author of Charles Dickens's American Audience (2010), How to Write about Joseph Conrad (2011), and Mark Twain's Audience (2014).
Table of Contents-
  • Preface
    Introduction: The Twenties
    Chapter One Beyond the Wasteland: T.S. Eliot, the Lost Generation, and the Postwar World
    Chapter Two Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald: Friendship and Rivalry
    Chapter Three William Faulkner: A Southern Voice in the Age of Modernism
    Chapter Four Modernism and Popular Culture in the Age of Ezra Pound and James Joyce
    Chapter Five Midwest Vision and Values: Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather
    Chapter Six Sounds of the City: Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Anzia Yezierska, Langston Hughes
    Chapter Seven History and Mythmakers: Edith Wharton, Stephen Vincent Benet, William Carlos Williams, John Steinbeck
    Notes
    Bibliography
    Index
    About the Author
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 30, 2015
    McParland (Mark Twain's Audience) fails to deliver on the promise of his book's subtitle, opting instead to demonstrate that some of the most prominent American authors of the 1920s were in fact simply products of their time. Citing Mencken, McParland refers to Fitzgerald as a “social historian" of the period, and goes on to say that “these novelists, in their various ways observers of a bright and unique era." Sinclair Lewis, too, “was one with his readers," the success of Main Street attributable to “a receptive audience," while Faulkner “shows us a different picture of the 1920s than the ones we have been looking at to this point." The writers who emerge from these pages are all the less interesting for being depicted more as chroniclers of the age than as its arbiters, more shaped by their time than shaping it. MacParland has done an impressive amount of research, but he piles on too many facts without explaining their significance. In place of insight, he offers anodyne observations worthy of SparkNotes: The Great Gatsby contains “the archetypical quest of the American dream"; The Grapes of Wrath “reminds us of the heroism of the common man and woman." Despite 40 pages of endnotes and bibliography, this book is likely to be of little more interest to the academic than to the lay reader.

  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2015

    The 1920s, one of the more colorful decades of the 20th century, inspired a generation of writers who captured the changes in America following World War I. First called the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it was a time of new optimism and breaking the old Victorian taboos. In this carefully researched cultural history, McParland (English, Felician Coll.; Mark Twain's Audience) takes a new look at classics such as Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, and Willa Cather's O Pioneers!, showing how the works represented the era and reflected universal human concerns. He points out how Ernest Hemingway and others helped forge an American literature independent from older English writing. The impressive, unusual list of sources includes critical commentaries of the time and articles by readers, revealing how they reacted to the narratives and characters. VERDICT This thorough and penetrating analysis succeeds in showing the 1920s to be a golden age of American literature that still influences readers and scholars. The unusual blend of criticism and social history will appeal primarily to literature students and specialists in the field of cultural studies.--Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review McParland's Beyond Gatsby [is] impressively researched and smartly organized.
  • Publishers Weekly MacParland has done an impressive amount of research.
  • Library Journal The 1920s, one of the more colorful decades of the 20th century, inspired a generation of writers who captured the changes in America following World War I. First called the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it was a time of new optimism and breaking the old Victorian taboos. In this carefully researched cultural history, McParland takes a new look at classics such as Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, and Willa Cather's O Pioneers!, showing how the works represented the era and reflected universal human concerns. He points out how Ernest Hemingway and others helped forge an American literature independent from older English writing. The impressive, unusual list of sources includes critical commentaries of the time and articles by readers, revealing how they reacted to the narratives and characters. VERDICT This thorough and penetrating analysis succeeds in showing the 1920s to be a golden age of American literature that still influences readers and scholars. The unusual blend of criticism and social history will appeal primarily to literature students and specialists in the field of cultural studies.
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    Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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Beyond Gatsby
Beyond Gatsby
How Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Writers of the 1920s Shaped American Culture
Robert McParland
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