On Native Grounds: An Interpretation of Modern American Prose Literature
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An Interpretation of Modern American Prose Literature by Alfred Kazin.
Harper Perennial: 1995
Paperbound: 572 pages
"Of all my books, On Native Grounds was the easiest to write. I felt what i have never felt since 1945 - that the age was wholly with me, that i was appealing to 'the spirit of age,' that the writers as characters in my book were friends and the most encouraging people in the world to write about."
—Alfred Kazin, from the Preface to the fiftieth anniversary edition
On its debut, this brilliant, innovative, and influential study established Alfred Kazin's reputation as a leasing literary critic. Now, in its fiftieth year of publication, Kazin's work is as relevant as on the day it was first written, a classic that brings fresh perspective to our interpretation of the literature belonging to what many consider the golden era of American letters. Kazin discusses the work of Edith Wharton, Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, and William Faulkner, among others writing in the period embraced by the Civil Way and World War II, and declares this era the advent of a truly American literary style: sensitive to economic and social issues while expressing an intense national consciousness. Importantly, Kazin believes that this emerging American literature reflected not simply a reaction to Victorian gentility and repression but something greater - the moral transformation of our entire society under the gathering impact of industrialization, science, and world wars. It was the idea of a nation's principal literary figures being bound so directly to its social development that made Kazin's analysis revolutionary and that maintains its vitality fifty years later.
Alfred Kazin has lectured and taught at many prestigious university in both the U. S. and Europe. His other books include A Walker in the City, The Inmost Leaf, and Starting out in the Thirties.