By Sanford Pinsker
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Additional resources for Bearing the bad news: contemporary American literature and culture
In this sense, Rahv had better luck because he argued neither as poet nor as fictionist, neither as paleface nor as redskin. Instead, he wrote as one who believed that we read American literature to better read ourselves as Americans, and it is this spiritrather than his specific observations about, say, Whitman or Jamesthat gives his essay a contemporary significance. Moreover, the same Rahv who described the fundamental tension of American literature as pitting paleface against redskin also worried about its limitations.
As a result] most serious matters are closed to the hardboiled. They are unpracticed in introspection, and therefore badly equipped to deal with opponents whom they cannot shoot like big game or outdo in daring. Joseph, the brooding protagonist of Dangling Man, has more in common with, say, Dostoyevsky's Underground Man than he does with those in the Hemingway school, whether their name be Natty Bumppo or Nick Adams. In short, Bellow has never been especially shy about demonstrating his kinship either to the Russian novel or to the place of "ideas" in fiction.
Moreover, the same Rahv who described the fundamental tension of American literature as pitting paleface against redskin also worried about its limitations. By 1939, Rahv was convinced that the battle was largely over, and that the redskins had won. , the novel) andin words that sounded for all the world like echoes of D. H. Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature (1923)Rahv set about to ponder how much of this victory deserved the adjective "Pyrrhic": Page 6 The redskin writer in America is a purely indigenous phenomenon, the true-blue offspring of the Western Hemisphere.
Bearing the bad news: contemporary American literature and culture by Sanford Pinsker