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Conspiracy and Paranoia in Contemporary American Fiction

The Works of Don DeLillo and Joseph McElroy

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Steffen Hantke

Under the influence of Thomas Pynchon, a generation of postmodern American writers has explored the theme of conspiracy and paranoia, its origins in contemporary American culture, and its political and ideological ramifications. This intense preoccupation with paranoid forms of conceptual organization has helped critics to represent postmodernism as a coherent phenomenon and define it as a period. While for many readers the assumption of periodic homogeneity is still valid, postmodern fiction has, in fact, been diversifying rapidly in the course of its development over the last 20 years. In the works of Don DeLillo and Joseph McElroy, a new set of narrative premises, which mark a significant paradigmatic shift within postmodern American fiction, has begun to emerge from the dialogic interplay with Pynchonesque paranoia.

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Hartmut Heuermann I Bernd-Peter Lange (eds.) Contemporaries in Cultural Criticism Frankfurt/M., Bern, New York, Paris, 1991. 470 pp. ISBN 3-631-43052-3 HC. DM 98.--* A sequel to Classics in Cultural Criticism I and II, this volume extends the synoptic view into the present and thus systematically supplements the first two volumes. The overall conception is analogous to that of the predecessors and, consistent with the general design, the book is again the fruit of a joint labor of English/American and German scholar- ship. The contemporary critics dealt with encompass Raymond Williams (Tony Pinkney), Leslie Fiedler (Walter Kuhne!), E.P. Thompson (Richard Stinshoff), Fredric Jameson (Ingrid Kerkhoff), Daniel Bell (Heinz Tschachler), Susan Sontag (Gary Grieve-Carlson), James Baldwin (Klaus Ensslen), Theodore Roszak (Thomas R. West), Edward Said (Gunter H. Lenz), Christopher Lasch (Rosita Becke), Stuart Hall (Ingrid von Rosenberg), Kate Millett (Blanche Linden-Ward), C.L.R. James (Jens David), Adrienne Rich (Elizabeth Meese) and Neil Postman (Peter Ludes).The book is prefaced by the editors and again features biblio- graphies of the works of all critics under discussion. Peter Lang .£.. Europaischer Verlag der Wissenschaften Frankfurt a.M. • Berlin • Bern • New York • Paris • Wien Auslieferung: Verlag Peter lang AG, Jupiterstr. 15, CH-3000 Bern 15 Telefon (004131) 9411122, Telefax (004131) 9411131 - Preisanderungen vorbehalten · •exldusive Umsatzsteuer Under the influence of Thomas Pynchon, a generation of postmodem Ameri- can writers has explored the theme of conspiracy and paranoia, its origins 1n contemporary American culture, and its political and ideological ramifications. This intense preoccupation with paranoid forms of conceptual organization has...

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