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Dwelling In The Text: Houses In American Fiction
by Marilyn Chandler Mcentyre
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From Library Journal
Chandler sees houses as "the locus of the central conflicts of American life." In this critical work she leads readers through houses in American novels, ranging from Walden , The Fall of the House of Usher , and The Great Gatsby to Beloved , and explores the writers' own homes as well as the relationship of the house to characters and structure. Writing in a highly literate yet readable style, Chandler leaves no architectural environment unexamined, in addition to discussing the significance to Americans of having or not having a house. This book adds an important dimension to the study of American literature and should be of interest to scholars and serious readers. Recommended for all academic libraries.
- Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
What is a house? And what can architecture tell us about individual psychology, national character and aspiration? The house holds a central place in American mythology, as Marilyn Chandler demonstrates in a series of "house tours" through American novels, beginning with Thoreau's Walden and ending with Toni Morrison's Beloved and Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping.
Chandler illuminates the complex analogies between house and psyche, house and family, house and social environment, and house and text. She traces a historical path from settlement to unsettledness in American culture and explores all the rituals in between: of building, decorating, inhabiting, and abandoning houses. She notes the ambivalence between our desire for rootedness and our romanticization of wide open spaces, relating these poles to the tension between materialism and spirituality in our national character.
At a time when housing has become a problem of unprecedented dimensions in America, this look at the place of houses and homes in the American imagination reveals some sources of the attitudes, assumptions, and expectations that underlie the designing and building of the homes we buy, sell, and dream about.
From the Inside Flap
"A fresh and convincing view of the American imagination."--William Howarth, author of The Book of Concord: Thoreau's Life as a Writer
"Examines the metaphor of the house in the work of such diverse writers as Thoreau, Poe, Edith Wharton and Toni Morrison, raising clearly and elegantly questions about the house and the social environment, the house and the psyche, the house and the text, the house and gender. This is a bright, enlightening, and stimulating book."--Diana O. Hehir, author of I Wish This War Were Over
From the Back Cover
"A fresh and convincing view of the American imagination." (William Howarth, author of The Book of Concord: Thoreau's Life as a Writer)
About the Author
Marilyn R. Chandler is Wert Professor of American Literature at Mills College and the author of A Healing Art: Regeneration Through Autobiography (Garland 1990).
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