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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.
Contents: The Circle and the Labyrinth: Vision and Speech in the «hardly accomplished revolution» of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter – «Posts of the good»: Walt Whitman and Some Traditions of American Poetics – Toward the Outside: The Quest for Discontinuity in Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family’s Progress – Cultural Reflections on American Linguistics from Whitney to Sapir – Is he a Bedouin? Post-war American and French Responses to North Africa in the Work of Paul Bowles and Albert Camus [with Marzia Balzani] – Hidden Persuasions: Ideology and the Representation of Commodities in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Culture – Holding the Line: Allen Ginsberg between Past and Future in the 1950s – «Why do we always say angel?»: Herbert Huncke and Neal Cassady – Muriel Rukeyser: The Poet as Scientific Biographer – To Their Own True Purposes: American Poets and Cultural Studies – The Person in Place: Lewis Mumford, Pioneer of Cultural Criticism – On Location: Landscape in the Western.