Cover image for The gold standard and the logic of naturalism : American literature at the turn of the century
Title:
The gold standard and the logic of naturalism : American literature at the turn of the century
Author:
Michaels, Walter Benn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1987]

©1987
Physical Description:
ix, 248 pages ; 22 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780520059818

9780520059825
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PS374.N29 M5 1987 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Central Library PS374.N29 M5 1987 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
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Summary

Summary

The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism discusses ways of creating value in turn-of-the-century American capitalism. Focusing on such topics as the alienation of property, the invention of masochism, and the battle over free silver, it examines the participation of cultural forms in these phenomena. It imagines a literary history that must at the same time be social, economic, and legal; and it imagines a literature that, to be understood at all, must be understood both as a producer and a product of market capitalism.


Summary

The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism discusses ways of creating value in turn-of-the-century American capitalism. Focusing on such topics as the alienation of property, the invention of masochism, and the battle over free silver, it examines the participation of cultural forms in these phenomena. It imagines a literary history that must at the same time be social, economic, and legal; and it imagines a literature that, to be understood at all, must be understood both as a producer and a product of market capitalism.


Author Notes

Walter Benn Michaels teaches English at Johns Hopkins University.


Walter Benn Michaels teaches English at Johns Hopkins University.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Michaels's book consists of seven essays that collectively examine how literary naturalism participates in the workings of a capitalist economy. To this end, Michaels reads selected texts of, among others, Dreiser, Norris, Crane, Wharton, Howells, and Harriet Beecher Stowe with reference to such issues as the gold standard, corporate structures, and prevailing notions of contract and real estate. The result is a series of surprisingly fresh readings that includes wide-ranging discussions of masochism, trompe l'oeil painting, photography, and writing. The book offers a model of literary history that is less concerned with concepts of authorial intention or the text as an autonomous entity than with the ways all forms of expression yield cultural meaning when considered interdependently. Michaels's view that important literary texts often participate in, rather than take a critical stance against, the values of consumer capitalism offers a challenge to more traditional forms of historical criticism. This stimulating study, marred only by the occasional use of academic jargon, should be read by anyone interested in American cultural history. Recommended for graduate libraries.-T.P. Riggio, University of Connecticut


Choice Review

Michaels's book consists of seven essays that collectively examine how literary naturalism participates in the workings of a capitalist economy. To this end, Michaels reads selected texts of, among others, Dreiser, Norris, Crane, Wharton, Howells, and Harriet Beecher Stowe with reference to such issues as the gold standard, corporate structures, and prevailing notions of contract and real estate. The result is a series of surprisingly fresh readings that includes wide-ranging discussions of masochism, trompe l'oeil painting, photography, and writing. The book offers a model of literary history that is less concerned with concepts of authorial intention or the text as an autonomous entity than with the ways all forms of expression yield cultural meaning when considered interdependently. Michaels's view that important literary texts often participate in, rather than take a critical stance against, the values of consumer capitalism offers a challenge to more traditional forms of historical criticism. This stimulating study, marred only by the occasional use of academic jargon, should be read by anyone interested in American cultural history. Recommended for graduate libraries.-T.P. Riggio, University of Connecticut


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