Desire and Disillusionment: A Guide to American Fiction Since 1890 departs from the typical academic study in that it appeals to the general reading public, undergraduate and graduate students, and literary scholars. The book’s focus on a highly relatable subject, longing and loss, its running plot summaries, and lucid presentation account for this broad appeal. Lawrence E. Hussman examines selected novels and short stories of fifty major American fiction writers from Stephen Crane to Junot Diaz. The reader will also find references to American politics, history, and popular culture in the book. Additionally, the author’s decidedly original, provocative critical approach delivers new insights that will reshape thinking about American literature as a reflection of the nation’s way of life. Literary critics will find the discussion of naturalism as a bridge to modernism and postmodernism especially enlightening. Furthermore, the book includes a summary of ideas about desire from the ancient philosophers to today’s scientists who study the brain.
Desire and Disillusionment can serve as a stimulating textbook in American literature, history, or philosophy classes.