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Holding the Line

Selected Essays in American Literature and Culture

Clive Bush

This book comprises a selection of interdisciplinary essays in American literature and culture written by Clive Bush over some forty years. They fall into four sections: Classic American Literature; Literary and Cultural Modernism; Literature and Politics; and American Cultural Studies. The topics range from literature to architecture, from the history of linguistics to analyses of the commodity culture, from poetry to film. The essays themselves extend from American linguistics to Beat literature. There is, however, an identifiable series of common themes and perspectives throughout. The first is the question of the relation of discourse itself to the practices of power: personal, social and political. The second is the attention paid to the particular and general historical context in which both texts and quasi-texts are situated. The third is that a European perspective, making use of comparative texts, has been used throughout. The author demonstrates a commitment both to close reading and to the value judgement in the reading of texts.
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The Century’s Midnight

Dissenting European and American Writers in the Era of the Second World War

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Clive Bush

The Century’s Midnight is an exploration of the literary and political relationships between a number of ideologically sophisticated American and European writers during a mid-twentieth century dominated by the Second World War. Clive Bush offers an account of an intelligent and diverse community of people of good will, transcending national, ideological and cultural barriers. Although structured around five central figures – the novelist Victor Serge, the editors Dwight Macdonald and Dorothy Norman, the cultural critic Lewis Mumford and the poet Muriel Rukeyser – the book examines a wealth of European and American writers including Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, Walter Benjamin, John Dos Passos, André Gide, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, George Orwell, Boris Pilniak, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ignacio Silone and Richard Wright.
The book’s central theme relates politics and literature to time and narrative. The author argues that knowledge of the writers of this period is of inestimable value in attempting to understand our contemporary world.