Kurt Vonnegut and the American Novel: A Postmodern Iconography (Continuum Literary Studies)

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9781472507006: Kurt Vonnegut and the American Novel: A Postmodern Iconography (Continuum Literary Studies)
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The novels of Kurt Vonnegut depict a profoundly absurd and distinctly postmodern world. But in this critical study, Robert Tally argues that Vonnegut himself is actually a modernist, who is less interested in indulging in the free play of signifiers than in attempting to construct a model that could encompass the American experience at the end of the twentieth century. As a modernist wrestling with a postmodern condition, Vonnegut makes use of diverse and sometimes eccentric narrative techniques (such as metafiction, collage, and temporal slippages) to project a comprehensive vision of life in the United States. Vonnegut's novels thus become experiments in making sense of the radical transformations of self and society during that curious, unstable period called, perhaps ironically, the 'American Century.' An untimely figure, Vonnegut develops a postmodern iconography of American civilization while simultaneously acknowledging the impossibility of a truly comprehensive representation.

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'Kurt Vonnegut and the American Novel is an exciting re-evaluation of this much overlooked author's work. Tally deftly rereads Vonnegut's novels, situating them in an American tradition of fiction that seeks to make sense of the larger American experience. The book skilfully interweaves a germane selection of literary and critical theory to convincingly argue that Vonnegut should be reassessed as a substantial Modernist rather than Postmodernist writer.' -- David Simmons, Lecturer In American Literature, Film And Television Studies, Northampton University, UK

'Robert Tally's book makes a serious scholarly contribution not only to Vonnegut studies, but to the field of contemporary American literature in general. Arguing persuasively that Vonnegut is a 'reluctant postmodernist,' a 'misanthropic humanist' with modernist longings, Tally situates his readings of Vonnegut's fourteen novels amid recent critical debates about American literature, about postmodernism, and about what it means to be a human being. The book is that rarest of academic works, at once critically well-informed and eminently readable.' -- Susan Farrell, Professor Of English, College Of Charleston, USA

'A Melville as well as a Vonegut scholar, Tally (Texas State Univ.) grapples with Vonegut's novels as attempts, albeit failed ones, at writing the 'great American novel.' In Tally's view, this project constitutes partly an attempt to 'grasp the essence of American life at its moment.' Recommended. Upper division undergraduates and above.' --L. A. Brewer, Fortis College

About the Author:

Robert T. Tally Jr. is Associate Professor of English at Texas State University, USA, where he teaches American and world literature. Tally is the author of six books, including Poe and the Subversion of American Literature: Satire, Fantasy, Critique (Bloomsbury, 2014; named CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title 2014), Kurt Vonnegut and the American Novel: A Postmodern Iconography (Bloomsbury, 2011), and Melville, Mapping and Globalization: Literary Cartography in the American Baroque Writer (2009). He is the editor of four collections of essays, including The Geocritical Legacies of Edward W. Said: Spatiality, Critical Humanism, and Comparative Literature (2015).

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