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Peter Messent <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 15 Jan 2014 10:35:17 +0000
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Colleagues may well be ahead of me here. If so, apologies. But well worth reading is Lawrence Buell's section on Twain in his The Dream of the Great American Novel. Sample statements: 'The novels' typical approach is not to allow mundane descriptivism to stand for long without contorting it into some sort of menace,' 'By having the white characters at large keep up their barrage of...generally demeaning remarks about blacks while the blacks themselves remain guardedly in the shadows, HF establishes itself as more scrupulously aware than U.Tom's Cabin [Buell shows the similarities between the 2 texts] of the challenges of thinking across the color line from one's own side of the divide.... HF operates from a more sceptical sense of how racism forces efforts of cross-racial thinking into speculation, caricature and fantasy. In this Twain anticipates his great modern successors, Faulkner and Morrison,' HF is 'Twain's subtlest rendering of how it feels to navigate bygone time-space where society as usual seems alternatively inviting and systematically deranged.' Buell's book is well worth reading in its own full right though. I haven't read Fredric Jameson's new book, The Antinomies of Realism, but know he has a section on Twain too. I suspect this, too, will be a fascinating read? Can anyone report on it??? Best to all. Pete

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