Cover image for Scenes of nature, signs of men
Scenes of nature, signs of men
Tanner, Tony.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Physical Description:
x, 278 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS201 .T28 1987 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This book is about the relationship of the American writer to his land and language - to the 'scene' and the 'sign', to the natural landscape and the inscriptions imposed upon it by men. Among the questions considered in the first section of the book are how does American Romantic writing differ from European; what are the peculiar problems faced by the American artist, and what roles does he adopt to tackle them; what kind of writing results when authors as different as Henry Adams and Mark Twain lament the vanishing of an earlier America, or when Adams and Henry James review their complex relationship to their homeland, or when W. D. Howells and Stephen Crane seek to define their themes in a specifically American setting. The second section of the book examines similar concerns in a number of contemporary writers, notably Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Donald Barthelme, John DeLillo, and William Gass.

Table of Contents

1 Scenes of nature, signs of men
2 Notes for a comparison between American and European Romanticism
3 Problems and roles of the American artist as portrayed by the American novelist
4 James on Hawthorne
5 The lost America - the despair of Henry Adams and Mark Twain
6 Henry James and Henry Adams
7 William Dean Howells and A Hazard of New Fortunes
8 Stephen Crane
9 The Bostonians and the human voice
10 Games American writers play: ceremony, complicity, contestation, and carnival
11 Toward an ultimate topography: the work of Joseph McElroy
12 Frames and sentences
13 William Gass's barns and bees