Book Review: Critical Lives, ‘Herman Melville’ by Kevin J. Hayes
Herman Melville by Kevin J. Hayes provides a readable, entertaining, and informative account of Melville’s life and esteemed contribution to American letters. Hayes expertly captures many of the major moments of Melville’s life in an exciting, satisfying manner, arguing that Melville’s entire literary career and, indeed, his life, contributed to the making of his 1851 masterwork, Moby-Dick; or, the Whale. Based on this one monumental novel, Melville’s place in the canon of American literature is secured, despite the fact that, as Hayes makes clear, Melville ‘had slipped into obscurity by the start of the twentieth century’.
Book Review: Tennessee Williams by Paul Ibell
Paul Ibell’s Tennessee Williams, part of Reaktion’s Critical Lives strand, provides a thorough, well-balanced overview of Williams’s life; it is a solid, well-considered addition to the biographical materials available on its subject, one of the foremost contributors to the American theatrical canon. Spanning just over 180 pages, Ibell explores three central aspects of Williams’s life-story: his tumultuous familial upbringing; the centrality of homosexuality and gender dynamics to his work; and the sharp, irreversible decline he experienced from the mid-1960s through to his death in the early-1980s, a decline punctuated by his fraught, painful relationship with his critics.
William Faulkner by Kirk Curnutt
Kirk Curnutt’s William Faulkner, the latest in Reaktion’s Critical Lives series, is a valuable contribution to the abundance of biographical materials on Faulkner, one of the United States’s foremost modernist […]
Review: BAAS PG Conference 2017 – Post-Truth and American Myths (Day One)
Rounding off 2017 (the year of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’), this year’s British Association for American Studies postgraduate conference was a timely, enlightening scholarly event, centred on concepts of ‘truth’, myth-making, and cultural fact and fiction in American society.