By Samuel Cohen
During this daring booklet, Samuel Cohen asserts the literary and old value of the interval among the autumn of the Berlin wall and that of the dual Towers in ny. With clean readability, he examines six Nineties novels and post-9/11 novels that discover the effect of the top of the chilly warfare: Pynchon's Mason & Dixon, Roth's American Pastoral, Morrison's Paradise, O'Brien's within the Lake of the Woods, Didion's the very last thing He sought after, Eugenides's Middlesex, Lethem's citadel of Solitude, and DeLillo's Underworld. Cohen emphasizes how those works reconnect the earlier to a gift that's sarcastically partial to denying that connection. Exploring the methods principles approximately paradise and pastoral, distinction and exclusion, innocence and righteousness, triumph and trauma deform the tales americans inform themselves approximately their nation’s previous, After the tip of background demanding situations us to re-evaluate those works in a brand new mild, supplying clean, insightful readings of what are destined to be vintage works of literature. even as, Cohen enters into the theoretical dialogue approximately postmodern ancient realizing. Throwing his hat within the ring with strength and elegance, he confronts not just Francis Fukuyama’s triumphalist reaction to the autumn of the Soviet Union but additionally the opposite literary and political “end of historical past” claims positioned forth by way of such theorists as Fredric Jameson and Walter Benn Michaels. In a simple, affecting kind, After the top of historical past deals us a brand new imaginative and prescient for the features and confines of up to date fiction.
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Additional info for After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s
The unlimited possibility of America, of the New Eden, the land mason & dixon and the amper sand 45 not just of the free but the equal, will not survive either. As is seen in the novel’s frame, Wicks Cherrycoke’s 1786 telling of the story of Mason and Dixon, its great promise will not be met. He says, “This Christmastide of 1786, with the War settl’d and the Nation bickering itself into Fragments, wounds bodily and ghostly, great and small, go aching on, not ev’ry one commemorated, — nor, too often, even recounted” (6).
While the drawing of the line is on a (literally) mundane level, mere surveying and cutting (as the unhappy, stargazing astronomer Mason sometimes sees it), it depends on a belief in the human ability to domesticate the natural. One important context for the story of this line, then, is the story of the Enlightenment. Pynchon’s telling of it is less celebratory than the traditional version and more nuanced than the usual revision. One way to think about Pynchon’s version is, conveniently, in terms of lines.
The Enlightenment, not just in its intellectual projects — Diderot’s Encyclopédie, Johnson’s dictionary, Linnaeus’s taxonomy 36 af ter enlightenment — but also in its revolutions, French and American, and its imperial and colonial manifestations, depended on and in fact championed the drawing and maintaining of lines. The upward-tending line of progress, then, depended on the drawing of lines of division. As this kind of “progress” continues to be made, this story of the Enlightenment continues to be told.
After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s by Samuel Cohen