By John Carlos Rowe

In occasions of liberal melancholy it is helping to have a person like John Carlos Rowe positioned issues into point of view, thus, with a suite of essays that asks the query, “Must we throw out liberalism’s successes with the neoliberal bathwater?” Rowe first lays out a family tree of early twentieth-century modernists, akin to Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Ralph Ellison, with a watch towards stressing their transnationally engaged liberalism and their efforts to introduce into the literary avant-garde the troubles of politically marginalized teams, no matter if outlined via race, type, or gender. the second one a part of the amount comprises essays at the works of Harper Lee, Thomas Berger, Louise Erdrich, and Philip Roth, emphasizing the continuity of efforts to symbolize household political and social matters. whereas severe of the more and more conservative tone of the neoliberalism of the previous quarter-century, Rowe rescues the worth of liberalism’s sympathetic and socially engaged cause, while he criticizes smooth liberalism’s lack of ability to paintings transnationally.

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John Keats, Letter to George and Thomas Keats (Dec. 21, 1817), in Critical Theory since Plato, p. 494; Lionel Trilling, introduction to Selected Letters of John Keats, ed. , 1951).  F. W. Dupee, Henry James: His Life and Writings, 2nd ed. , 1956), pp. ” Dupee first published this book in 1951, one year after Trilling’s Liberal Imagination.  See Wendy Graham, Henry James’s Thwarted Love (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1999), pp. 177–206.  On “aesthetic dissent” and “Emersonianism,” see John Carlos Rowe, At Emer­ son’s Tomb: The Politics of Classic American Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), pp.

Berger’s novels mark the end of the modernist critique of bourgeois values we identify with philosophical and literary existentialism. Continental existentialism was itself a bourgeois philosophy, even when such foundational figures as JeanPaul Sartre claimed to be leftists, even members of the French Communist Party. Yet Sartrean existentialism rejected l’esprit de serieux that Sartre judged to be international Communism’s fatal flaw. Berger moves toward a new theory of an aesthetic avant-garde in these two novels that builds upon what he understands as the internal contradictions of late capitalism and bourgeois family values.

Anticipating such ideological slogans of the Reagan Administration as “the ownership society” and “trickle-down economics,” Berger looks for aesthetic means to simulate his own “culture wars” well before they became popular in the late 1980s. Louise Erdrich’s The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (2001) and The Master Butchers Singing Club (2003) deal centrally with Ojibwe and Euroamerican social and cultural conflicts and relations in the Upper Midwest. Both of these works focus on liberal Euroamericans attempting to cope with the repressed memory of the genocide and terror Native Americans suffered from Euroamerican imperialism.

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