Revolution and the Word
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Revolution and the Word : The Rise of the Novel in America

3.81 (75 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Offering a unique perspective on the origins of American fiction, Cathy N. Davidson focuses not only on the early novels themselves but also on the people who produced, sold, and read them. She demonstrates how, in the aftermath of the American Revolution, the novel found a special place among some of the least privileged citizens of the new republic. Though now mostly forgotten, these early American novels enabled those who bought and read them-especially women and the lower classes-to move into the higher levels of literacy required by a democracy. Combining rigorous historical methods with contemporary critical theory, Davidson brilliantly reconstructs the complex interplay of politics, ideology, economics, and other social forces that governed the writing, publishing, distribution, and comprehension of these early novels. She assesses the precarious business of the printer, the hardships endured by the traveling book peddler, the shortcomings of early American schools, and the lost lives of such women as Tabitha Tenney and diarist Patty Rogers. By exploring how Americans lived during the Constitutional era, Davidson presents the genesis of American literature in its fullest possible context.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 148.3 x 228.1 x 20.8mm | 497.65g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • illus.
  • 0195056531
  • 9780195056532
  • 1,492,572

About Cathy N. Davidson

About the Author: Cathy N. Davidson, Professor of English at Michigan State University and Visiting Professor at Princeton University, has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. She is the editor of the Oxford editions of The Coquette and Charlotte Temple.show more

Review quote

"A magnificent source book."-Leonard Cassuto, Fordham University "Full of fascinating information and insightful observations. It is the most sophisticated, most thoughtful, and most interesting book ever written about the early American novel."-William and Mary Quarterly "An impressive ethnography of readership built on such evidence as a jotted response to a given moment in a novel as well as on shrewd inferences drawn from the successive signatures or embellishments found in spaces outside the text."-The Wilson Quarterly "A first-rate analysis of the ethical, economic, moral, and intellectual issues in early American fiction. Well done!"-Sarah E. Newton, California State University, Chico "Davidson has done the seemingly impossible-written a book that is both a landmark of literary-historical scholarship and a delight to read....If there is a better way to treat the rise of the American novel, it hasn't been invented yet."-Jane Tompkins, Legacy "For historians of post-Revolutionary, early national America this book opens a window to the minds of ordinary Americans as do few other books. It is an exciting piece of scholarship that brings to life novels that we have so long dismissed by reading them through the eyes of their readers, especially young women. It is a stunning achievement."-Alfred Young, Northern Illinois University "Essential reading for anyone interested in the development of American literature."-New England Quarterly "An exciting piece of scholarship that brings to life novels that we have so long dismissed by reading them through the eyes of their readers, especially young women....A stunning achievement."-Alfred Young, Northern Illinois University "This remarkable, rigorously interdisciplinary book will permanently revise our understanding of the early American novel and the subversive, truly democratic effect it had upon the disenfranchised of the new nation."-Janice Radway, University of Pennsylvania "The publication of Revolution and the Word signals a new maturity in literary criticism of the fiction of early America. The result is truly original scholarship that will alter our perceptions of writers and readers, and fiction and history, in the United States."-Emory Elliott, University of California, Riverside "Truly original scholarship that will alter our perceptions of writers and readers, and fiction and history, in the United States."-Emory Elliott, Princeton University "An engaging combination of information and analysis, Davidson's book on the production and readers of the early novel will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the novel, of reading, or of American literature."-Library Journal "Revolution and the Word-sophisticated, comprehensive and imaginative-charts this wilderness birthplace of American fiction and updates our notion of literary criticism in the process....As remarkable for its methods as for its message."-San Francisco Chronicle "A fascinating and groundbreaking book."-Philadelphia Inquirer "Drawing on recent work in social history, post-structuralist literary theory and feminist studies, [Davidson] argues persuasively that the genesis of American fiction was an integral part of a widespread crisis of authority in early modern America....A wonderful book."-The Nation "[A] complex, wide-ranging, and important book....[It] takes its place as one of the first important books...written on the American side of this still evolving, strongly interdisciplinary field."-Journal of the Early Republic "An excellent study, learned and discerning, far and away the best book ever written on the early American novel. It is important...as a reinterpretation of the literary culture of the whole early national era...and-beyond that-as a model in some important respects for literary historians working in any period and genre."-American Literature "[A] magnificent source book."-Leonard Cassuto, Fordham University "Essential reading in the field of history of the book. Well written and accessible to undergraduates."-Rosalind Remer, Moravian Collegeshow more

Rating details

75 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 20% (15)
4 48% (36)
3 25% (19)
2 7% (5)
1 0% (0)
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