2. Hard-Boiled Fiction and the Romantic Tradition 17
17 2. HARD-BOILED FICTION AND THE ROMANTIC TRADITION While Richard Chase· s now classic interpretation of all American literature as romance rather than as novel has recently been called into question, Chase· s description of major American literary works. including Twain's Huckleberry Finn (1884) and Melville's Mohy- Dick ( 1851) as forms of the romance, has certain benefits for the purposes of this study. In his study Chase has argued for a reading of American fiction as romance. a literary form distinct from the English novel. While the novel portrays reality in detail, the romance is freer to describe action and may also include astonishing events. 111 Similarly. the characters in the romance are not fully integrated with their own society or with each other. thus allowing also for mystery. 11 As Chase sums up the difference between the two forms. "[b ]eing less committed to the immediate rendition of reality than the novel, the romance will more freely veer toward mythic, allegoricaL and symbolistic forms". 12 Although the idea of the romance as a unified category that might be used to describe American fiction in general is too general and can be far too easily contradicted. like the term romantic, 13 the romance may, nevertheless. be used to describe certain literary genres within the American literary tradition. According to John Me Williams. Chase· s insistence on the existence of American romance is too programmatic and his selection of works to be I 0 Richard Chase. The American Nm·e/ and...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.