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"This isthmus of a middle state". The Suburban Fiction of John
Cheever, John Updike and Richard Ford - author: Krzysztof Kowalczyk-Twarowski
The present book studies the development of American suburban fiction
from its inception in the 1940s to the early twenty first century. The main subjects of inquiry are: 1) portrayal of the suburb from the socio-spatial perspective; 2) investigation of the suburban lifestyle and mentality in the fiction of John Cheever, John Updike and Richard Ford. In order to ensure balanced proportions, I decided to include all of the novels and selected short stories of John Cheever, the Rabbit tetralogy by John Updike and Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe cycle. As suburban literature tends to engage with the realist tradition while exposing its protagonists to social and political tensions, the work of two critics, Lionel Trilling and John Gardner, treating of the interface, will be in voked. The former's concept of "reality" as well as both Trilling's and Gardner's understanding of realism will come under scrutiny along with liberal (Trilling) and conservative (Gardner) conceptions of art vis--vis society in
late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century American fiction. In analyses of Cheever's, Updike's and Ford's texts, relations between the middle class and materialism/consumerism will be interrogated.
This Introduction is divided into three sections: 1) an outline of the history of the suburb in the context of American civilization; 2) a discussion of Lionel Trilling's concept of adversarial criticism; 3) a discussion of John Gardner's "moral fiction".
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