Download e-book for kindle: After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s by Samuel Cohen

By Samuel Cohen

During this daring booklet, Samuel Cohen asserts the literary and ancient value of the interval among the autumn of the Berlin wall and that of the dual Towers in manhattan. With clean readability, he examines six Nineteen Nineties novels and post-9/11 novels that discover the impression of the tip of the chilly battle: Pynchon's Mason & Dixon, Roth's American Pastoral, Morrison's Paradise, O'Brien's within the Lake of the Woods, Didion's the very last thing He sought after, Eugenides's Middlesex, Lethem's citadel of Solitude, and DeLillo's Underworld. Cohen emphasizes how those works reconnect the earlier to a gift that's mockingly a fan of denying that connection. Exploring the methods rules approximately paradise and pastoral, distinction and exclusion, innocence and righteousness, triumph and trauma deform the tales american citizens inform themselves approximately their nation’s earlier, After the top of heritage demanding situations us to re-evaluate those works in a brand new gentle, supplying clean, insightful readings of what are destined to be vintage works of literature. whilst, Cohen enters into the theoretical dialogue approximately postmodern ancient knowing. Throwing his hat within the ring with strength and magnificence, he confronts not just Francis Fukuyama’s triumphalist reaction to the autumn of the Soviet Union but in addition the opposite literary and political “end of background” claims positioned forth by means of such theorists as Fredric Jameson and Walter Benn Michaels. In an easy, affecting variety, After the tip of historical past bargains us a brand new imaginative and prescient for the services and confines of latest fiction.

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Extra resources for After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s

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In their Dialectic of Enlightenment, they argue that what has been called Enlightenment and hailed as progress in fact led to the gas chambers. With roots in Marx and Nietzsche, Adorno and Horkheimer and others in and outside of the Frankfurt School saw the belief in human mastery through reason and attempts to impose it on the universe, or “instrumental reason,” as the root of the miseries of their contemporary world, miseries that they could not cite as evidence of progress. As Walter Benjamin (also associated with the Frankfurt School) wrote in his “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism” (Illuminations 256).

Pynchon’s telling of their story and the story of pre-revolution America contains many kinds of lines, as do the larger contexts within which the story is set. To argue for the ampersand’s place as an important figure in the novel, I will first sketch the ways in which the novel is so marked, the ways in which Pynchon understands these stories and their contexts in terms of the metaphor of the line. This metaphor has thus far understandably dominated the novel’s reception by reviewers and critics.

Christ Mason . . Where does it end? No matter where in it we go, shall we find all the World Tyrants and Slaves? America was the one place we should not have found them. (692–93) Finding all the world tyrants and slaves means uncovering a shameful secret, a concealed truth of the Enlightenment world, mason & dixon and the amper sand 39 namely that freedom is reserved only for some. Even an incipient America, a land soon to proclaim all men equal, hides this truth, and not very well. Near the end of their time in America, Dixon tears the whip from the hand of a slave driver busy beating his property, whom Dixon frees.

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