Cover image for Thematic guide to the American novel
Thematic guide to the American novel
Adamson, Lynda G.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xi, 372 pages ; 25 cm
Abandonment -- Absurdity of war -- Alienation -- American dream -- Battered women -- Being and becoming -- Bereavement -- Betrayal -- Community -- Compassion -- Corrupting power -- Courage -- Cultural conflict -- Death -- Disabled -- Duty -- Emotional abuse -- Family -- Fathers and sons -- Friendship -- Greed -- Grotesques -- Healers -- Immigrant life -- Imprisonment -- Independent women -- Injustice -- Journeys -- Knowableness of God -- Loneliness -- Loss -- Love -- Male behavior -- Masquerading -- Mothers and daughters -- Multiracial offspring -- Nature -- Oppression -- Outsiders -- Quests -- Rejection -- Responsibility -- Revealing family history -- Search for a father -- Search for identity -- Storytelling -- Suicide -- Survival -- Trials -- Value of land.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS373 .A33 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
PS373 .A33 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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This unique resource provides readers with a systematic guide to the central themes in 150 of the most commonly taught American novels. Each of the 50 well written essays identifies and discusses an important theme, such as Alienation, Corruption of Power, and Immigrant Life that recurs in American literature. The pertinence of these themes is examined in a wide range of novels that reflect this country's cultural diversity and that span the many time periods in America's literary heritage. These novels include the canonical and the contemporary, yet they are all works that are accessible and important to students, and were selected in consultation with educators and experts' published curriculum surveys. The organization of this guide allows users to compare and contrast thematically related novels and also provides help in the selection of titles for classroom discussion and assignments.

This thematic guide is organized into 50 narrative essays. Each essay, written expressively with the student in mind, provides in-depth analyses of three American novels. The entries include selected lists of further suggested readings; additional fiction works that relate to the theme explored. Two helpful appendices make this resource even more valuable for the literature collection. One appendix provides additional themes and topics to be explored in the 150 novels. For quick reference, a second appendix organizes the 150 discussed novels alphabetically, identifying both the central and secondary themes for discussion in each. An author/title index, as well as a character/title index, facilitated optimum access to these works.

Author Notes

Lynda G. Adamson is Professor of Literature and Chair of the English Department at Prince George's Community College. She has taught American, Children's, and Comparative Literature courses and has been honored with the Senate Faculty Excellence Award. She has previously written ten reference books

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Adamson (author of American Historical Fiction: An Annotated Guide to Novels for Adults and Young Adults, CH, Mar'99, and Notable Women in American History: A Guide to Recommended Biographies and Autobiographies, CH, Feb'00) this time trains her sights on the American novel. She presents 50 categories, or themes ("Bereavement," "Fathers and Sons," "Multiracial Offspring"), each introduced by a quote (curiously, many from non-American authors) and a brief discussion of the theme as it occurs in American novels. She then discusses in greater detail the relation of the theme to two or three specific novels. Novels such as Foxfire, Middle Passage, and The Shipping News appear repeatedly and point to the mainstream nature of this guide: readers are unlikely to find references to novels they have not already heard of. Caveat emptor--the somewhat uneven essays could easily find their way into students' papers without attribution. Two appendixes and author/title and subject indexes are provided. This work will be of use to high school and college students, recreational readers, and readers' advisors. Large academic and all public libraries. C. Stevens Lake Forest College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. ix
Abandonmentp. 1
Absurdity of Warp. 8
Alienationp. 15
American Dreamp. 21
Battered Womenp. 28
Being and Becomingp. 34
Bereavementp. 42
Betrayalp. 48
Communityp. 55
Compassionp. 62
Corrupting Powerp. 68
Couragep. 75
Cultural Conflictp. 81
Deathp. 88
Disabledp. 95
Dutyp. 101
Emotional Abusep. 108
Familyp. 115
Fathers and Sonsp. 122
Friendshipp. 128
Greedp. 135
Grotesquesp. 142
Healersp. 149
Immigrant Lifep. 156
Imprisonmentp. 163
Independent Womenp. 170
Injusticep. 177
Journeysp. 184
Knowableness of Godp. 191
Lonelinessp. 198
Lossp. 205
Lovep. 211
Male Behaviorp. 218
Masqueradingp. 225
Mothers and Daughtersp. 231
Multiracial Offspringp. 237
Naturep. 244
Oppressionp. 251
Outsidersp. 258
Questsp. 265
Rejectionp. 271
Responsibilityp. 278
Revealing Family Historyp. 284
Search for a Fatherp. 290
Search for Identityp. 297
Storytellingp. 304
Suicidep. 311
Survivalp. 318
Trialsp. 324
Value of Landp. 330
Appendix A Additional Suggested Themes and Topicsp. 337
Appendix B Guide to Suggested Themes in 150 American Novelsp. 347
Author/Title Indexp. 357
Subject and Character Indexp. 367