Daniel Aaron University of Michigan Press, 2007 Library of Congress E175.5.A15A3 2007 | Dewey Decimal 973.07202
“ I have read all of Daniel Aaron’ s books, and admired them, but in The Americanist I believe he has composed an intellectual and social memoir for which he will be remembered. His self-portrait is marked by personal tact and admirable restraint: he is and is not its subject. The Americanist is a vision of otherness: literary and academic friends and acquaintances, here and abroad. Eloquently phrased and free of nostalgia, it catches a lost world that yet engendered much of our own.”
— Harold Bloom
“ The Americanist is the absorbing intellectual autobiography of Daniel Aaron, who is the leading proponent and practitioner of American Studies. Written with grace and wit, it skillfully blends Daniel Aaron’ s personal story with the history of the field he has done so much to create. This is a first-rate book by a first-rate scholar.”
— David Herbert Donald, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
The Americanist is author and critic Daniel Aaron’ s anthem to nearly a century of public and private life in America and abroad. Aaron, who is widely regarded as one of the founders of American Studies, graduated from the University of Michigan, received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and taught for over three decades each at Smith College and Harvard.
Aaron writes with unsentimental nostalgia about his childhood in Los Angeles and Chicago and his later academic career, which took him around the globe, often in the role of America’ s accidental yet impartial critic. When Walt Whitman, whom Aaron frequently cites as a touchstone, wrote, “ I am large, I contain multitudes,” he could have been describing Daniel Aaron— the consummate erudite and Renaissance individual whose allegiance to the truth always outweighs mere partisan loyalty.
Not only should Aaron’ s book stand as a resplendent and summative work from one of the finest thinkers of the last hundred years, it also succeeds on its own as a first-rate piece of literature, on a par with the writings of any of its subjects. The Americanist is a veritable Who’ s Who of twentieth-century writers Aaron interviewed, interacted with, or otherwise encountered throughout his life: Ralph Ellison, Robert Frost, Lillian Hellman, Richard Hofstadter, Alfred Kazin, Sinclair Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge, John Crowe Ransom, Upton Sinclair, Edmund Wilson, Leonard Woolf, and W. B. Yeats, to name only a few.
Aaron’ s frank and personal observations of these literary lights make for lively reading. As well, scattered throughout The Americanist are illuminating portraits of American presidents living and passed— miniature masterworks of astute political observation that offer dazzlingly fresh approaches to well-trod subjects.
Another South is an anthology of poetry from contemporary southern writers who are working in forms that are radical, innovative, and visionary. Highly experimental and challenging in nature, the poetry in this volume, with its syntactical disjunctions, formal revolutions, and typographic playfulness, represents the direction of a new breed of southern writing that is at once universal in its appeal and regional in its flavor.
Focusing on poets currently residing in the South, the anthology includes both emerging and established voices in the national and international literary world. From the invocations of Andy Young's "Vodou Headwashing Ceremony" to the blues-informed poems of Lorenzo Thomas and Honorée Jeffers, from the different voicings of )ohn Lowther and Kalamu ya Salaam to the visual, multi-genre art of Jake Berry, David Thomas Roberts, and Bob Grumman, the poetry in Another South is rich in variety and enthusiastic in its explorations of new ways to embody place and time. These writers have made the South lush with a poetic avant-garde all its own, not only redefining southern identity and voice but also offering new models of what is possible universally through the medium of poetry.
Hank Lazer's introductory essay about "Kudzu textuality" contextualizes the work by these contemporary innovators. Like the uncontrollable runaway vine that entwines the southern landscape, their poems are hyperfertile, stretching their roots and shoots relentlessly, at once destructive and regenerative. In making a radical departure from nostalgic southern literary voices, these poems of polyvocal abundance are closer in spirit to "speaking in tongues" or apocalyptic southern folk art—primitive, astonishing, and mystic.
FROM A DARKENED ROOM
Arthur Crew Inman Harvard University Press, 1996 Library of Congress PS3517.N84Z466 1996 | Dewey Decimal 818.5203
Introducing Don DeLillo
Frank Lentricchia Duke University Press, 1991 Library of Congress PS3554.E4425Z72 1991 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
If you want to find out what a rock critic, a syndicated columnist, and scholars of American literature have to say about one of America’s most important contemporary novelists, turn to Introducing Don DeLillo. Placing the author’s work in a cultural context, this is the first book-length collection on DeLillo, adding considerably to the emerging critical discourse on his work. Diversity is the key to this striking assemblage of cultural criticism edited by Frank Lentricchia. Special features include an expanded version of the Rolling Stone interview with the author (“An Outsider in this Society”) and the extraordinary tenth chapter of DeLillo’s Ratner’s Star. Accessibly written and entertaining, the collection will be of great interest to both students and scholars of contemporary American literature as well as to general readers interested in DeLillo’s work.
Contributors. Frank Lentricchia, Anthony Decurtis, Daniel Aaron, Hal Crowther, John A. McClure, Eugene Goodheart, Charles Molesworth, Dennis A. Foster, and John Frow
In The Unwritten War, Daniel Aaron examines the literary output of American writers—major and minor—who treated the Civil War in their works. He seeks to understand why this devastating and defining military conflict has failed to produce more literature of a notably high and lasting order, why there is still no "masterpiece" of Civil War fiction.
In his portraits and analyses of 19th- and some 20th-century writers, Aaron distinguishes between those who dealt with the war only marginally—Henry Adams, Henry James, William Dean Howells, Mark Twain-and those few who sounded the war's tragic import—Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and William Faulkner. He explores the extent to which the war changed the direction of American literature and how deeply it entered the consciousness of American writers. Aaron also considers how writers, especially those from the South, discerned the war's moral and historical implications.
The Unwritten War was originally published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1973. The New Republic declared, [This book's] major contribution will no doubt be to American literary history. In this respect it resembles Edmund Wilson's Patriotic Gore and is certain to become an indispensable guide for anyone who wants to explore the letters, diaries, journals, essays, novels, short stories, poems-but apparently no plays-which constitute Civil War literature. The mass of material is presented in a systematic, luminous, and useful way.