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From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature [Paperback]

Richard Ruland , Malcolm Bradbury
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Mar 1993
From a Modernist/Postmodernist perspective, this addresses questions of literary and cultural nationalism. The authors reveal that since the seventeenth century, American writing has reflected the political and historical climate of its time and helped define America's cultural and social parameters.Aboe all they argue that American literature has always been essentially "modern", illustrating this with a broad range of texts: from Poe and Melville to fitzgerald and Proud, to Wallace and Stevens, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Thomas Pynchon.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 Mar 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140144358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140144352
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 13 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 249,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Malcolm Bradbury was a novelist, critic, television dramatist and Emeritus Professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia. He is author of the novels Eating People Is Wrong (1959); Stepping Westward (1965); The History Man (1975), which won the Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize and was adapted as a famous television series; Rates of Exchange (1983), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Cuts: A Very Short Novel (1987), also televised; and Doctor Criminale (1992).His critical works include The Modern American Novel (1984; revised edition, 1992), No, Not Bloomsbury (essays, 1987), The Modern World: Ten Great Writers (1988), The Modern British Novel (1993) and Dangerous Pilgrimages (1995).He has also edited Modernism (with James McFarlane, 1976), The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories (1988) and The Atlas of Literature (1997). He is the author of a collection of seven stories and nine parodies, entitled Who Do You Think You Are? (1976), and of several works of humour and satire, including Why Come to Slaka? (1986), Unsent Letters (1988; revised edition, 1995) and Mensonge (1987). Many of his books are published by Penguin. In addition, he has written many television plays and the television 'novels' The Gravy Train and The Gravy Train Goes East. He has also adapted several television series, including Tom Sharpe's Porterhouse Blue, Kingsley Amis's The Green Man and Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm.Malcolm Bradbury was awarded the CBE in 1991 and died in 2000.

Richard Ruland is Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
A fundamental difference exists between American literature and nearly all the other major literary traditions of the world: it is essentially a modern, recent and international literature. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Rec'd. 20 July 2008
Format:Paperback
An authoritative narrative account of American Literary history from - as you might expect - Puritanism to postmodernism.

To the student, I found this book particularly useful in regard to some of the authors that, as an English student, I was less familiar with. Particularly, this book covers the period of writing between 1780-1820 in very good (introductory) detail, while revealing some authors that a nineteenth-century American Literature course may not have time to include at all. However, this is an example of good supplementary reading, I should stress, it is not a theme-orientated exam-focused book by any means.

To the general interest reader, the book is clearly written and will prove an enjoyable read. Clearly, given the length of the book, it goes into relatively little depth, but the economy and clarity of the writing is such that it is surprising how much is packed into this small, almost introductory format.

A reader that is very familiar with the writing of the period may find this book of less interest, although the sheer ease of reading would prove enjoyable and certainly contains interesting insights into comparatively peripheral authors and works other than the acknowledged `big hitters' of American Literature - Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Whitman, etc.

Overall, a true introductory narrative account with all of the advantages and disadvantages associated with this style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book 19 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted a book that would help me understand all eras of American literature from Puritanism to Postmodernism, and this is the best book I've found yet. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about American literature.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Students' Lifesaver! 8 Dec 2003
By roz
Format:Paperback
As a first year American Literature student I found this book very helpful. Having only studed English Literature in the past, reading this book before embarking on my course enabled me to grasp a few of the concepts of American Literature and contribute to my seminars in a way that would have been impossible without this lifesaver!! A must for any American Literature student and anybody who holds an interest in the subject!
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent readable history of American literature 26 April 2010
By Meredith Folsom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Easy reading but not dull witted, quite an enjoyable and informative book. Malcolm Bradbury (Sir Malcolm) was (died in 2000) a British professor of American Studies and Richard Ruland is a professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. They know their business and oh, how wonderful, they are able writers. Bradbury was even a Booker Prize Best Novel nominee (1983)for Rates of Exchange.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A concise and enriching look at the history of American Literature 21 Sep 2010
By VictorE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An exceptional book for a concise, in a nutshell history of American Literature. I was assigned this book for a graduate class, which was surprising considering that it inexpensive. It's a book I've returned to and plan on returning to in the future.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literature History in a fun and readable medium 24 Sep 2013
By Pamela C. Ellis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was so tired of boring text-book style reads in which I was being lectured from the pages and lacked any kind of involvement or attachment to the sibject matter. I expected the same from this book and was dreading reading it when it was assigned for an American Literature class. I was sorely disapointed but in a good way! The authors have found a way to balance information with approachableness and for once I didn't feel lectured, but rather engaged in the subject matter. It was so good I read beyond what was required for the class and finished it. If you are taking an American Lit class, I recommend it even if your professor doesn't and if you are interested in writing I would recommend it also as it is enlightening and a good read!
5.0 out of 5 stars Arrived Early 21 Aug 2013
By Alan D. Beauregard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Book was promised to me by Monday Aug 19, but actually arrived the previous Saturday. Book is a closeout, unread/unopened, with only a black Sharpie line across the pages on the bottom of the book that (I assume) marked the book as part of the closeout stock.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! 2 Mar 2012
By Sean - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is my go-to book for all things pertaining to the history of American Literature. It's comprehensive, yet concise. It's intelligently written, yet not stilted. Genius!
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