While the illness narrative is now a staple of the publishing industry, the genre itself has posed a problem for literary studies. What is the role of criticism in relation to personal accounts of suffering? Can these narratives be judged on aesthetic grounds? Are they a collective expression of the lost intimacy of the patient-doctor relationship? Is their function thus instrumental—to elicit the reader’s empathy?
To answer these questions, Ann Jurecic turns to major works on pain and suffering by Susan Sontag, Elaine Scarry, and Eve Sedgwick and reads these alongside illness narratives by Jean-Dominique Bauby, Reynolds Price, and Anne Fadiman, among others. In the process, she defines the subgenres of risk and pain narratives and explores a range of critical responses guided, alternately, by narrative empathy, the hermeneutics of suspicion, and the practice of reparative reading.
Bevis examines the most puzzling and least studied aspect of Wallace Stevens’ poetry: detachment.
Jean Pfaelzer’s study traces the impact of the utopian novel in the late nineteenth century, and the narrative structures of these sentimental romances. She discusses progressive, pastoral, feminist, and apocalyptic utopias, as well as the genre’s parodic counterpart, the dystopia.
A study of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writing and life during his time as United States consul in Liverpool, England (1853-1864), his final years.
The first book devoted to the literary relationship between Henry James and his American predecessor, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Nine noted literary critics examine the spiritual and religious elements in the fiction of such diverse writers as James Baldwin, J. F. Powers, Graham Greene, Par Lagerkvist, and Flannery O’Connor.
Bruccoli reconstructs seventeen drafts and three versions of the novel to answer questions about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s major work that have long puzzled critics of modern literature.
Mooney closely examines each of Cozzens’ novels, isolating and defining his main themes and addressing the critical acclaim and condemnation of his works.
In addition to discussing Robinson Jeffers’ life and philosophy, Monjian analyzes the form and style of his poetry and philosophy of inhumanism.
One of the earliest, and still one of the most perceptive analyses of Katherine Anne Porter, it gives careful interpretation of the style and intent of Porter’s work from 1935 through the publication and critical reception of Ship of Fools.