1st Edition

Authoritarianism and Class in American Political Fiction Elite Pluralism and Political Bosses in Three Post-War Novels

By David Smit Copyright 2022
    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book analyzes what many critics consider to be the three best examples of modern American political fiction—Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, Edwin O’Connor’s The Last Hurrah, and Billy Lee Brammer’s The Gay Place—to address a specific problem in American governance: how the intense competition for power among elite factions often results in their ignoring major groups of their constituents, thereby providing political bosses with a rationale to seize authoritarian control of the government in the name of constituent groups who feel ignored or neglected, promising them more democratic rule, but in the process, excluding other groups, so that the bosses themselves become elitist, ruling only for the sake of some constituents and not others.


    Chapter 1: Class, Elite Pluralism, and Political Bosses


    Part I

    Chapter 2: Robert Penn Warren and Huey Long’s Louisiana: 1928–32

    Chapter 3: A Class Analysis of All the King’s Men


    Part II

    Chapter 4: Edwin O’Connor and James Michael Curley’s Boston: 1914–50

    Chapter 5: A Class Analysis of The Last Hurrah


    Part III

    Chapter 6: Billie Lee Brammer and Lyndon Johnson’s Texas in the1950s

    Chapter 7: A Class Analysis of The Gay Place




    David Smit is Professor Emeritus of English at Kansas State University, where he taught for twenty-nine years and was director of the Expository Writing Program for two five-year terms. His special interests are writing theory, Henry James, modern drama, and post-war American literature and culture, especially the political fiction of the period.