From Puritanism to Postmodernism : A History of American Literature book cover
1st Edition

From Puritanism to Postmodernism
A History of American Literature

ISBN 9781138642065
Published April 7, 2016 by Routledge
470 Pages

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Book Description

Widely acknowledged as a contemporary classic that has introduced thousands of readers to American literature, From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature brilliantly charts the fascinating story of American literature from the Puritan legacy to the advent of postmodernism. From realism and romanticism to modernism and postmodernism it examines and reflects on the work of a rich panoply of writers, including Poe, Melville, Fitzgerald, Pound, Wallace Stevens, Gwendolyn Brooks and Thomas Pynchon. Characterised throughout by a vibrant and engaging style it is a superb introduction to American literature, placing it thoughtfully in its rich social, ideological and historical context.

A tour de force of both literary and historical writing, this Routledge Classics edition includes a new preface by co-author Richard Ruland, a new foreword by Linda Wagner-Martin and a fascinating interview with Richard Ruland, in which he reflects on the nature of American fiction and his collaboration with Malclolm Bradbury. It is published here for the first time.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Routledge Classics edition – Richard Ruland

Foreword to the Routledge Classics edition – Linda Wagner Martin


Part I The Literature of British America

1. The Puritan Legacy

2. Awakening and Enlightenment

Part II From Colonial Oppressor to Cultural Province

3. Revolution and (In)dependence

4. American Naissance

5. Yea-saying and Nay-saying

Part III Native and Cosmopolitan Crosscurrents: from Local Color to Realism and Naturalism

6. Secession and Loyalty

7. Muckrakers and Early Moderns

Part IV Modernism in the American Grain

8. Outland Darts and Homemade Worlds

9. The Second Flowering

10. Radical Reassessments

11. Strange Realities, Adequate Fictions

Epilogue - American Literary History in 1998: A Conversation with Josef Jarăb and Richard Ruland in Prague


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Malcolm Bradbury (1932-2000) was Professor of Literature and American Studies first at the University of Birmingham (1961-65) and then at the University of East Anglia from 1970 until his retirement in 1995. Bradbury became a Commander of the British Empire in 1991 for services to literature and was made a Knight Bachelor in the New Year Honours 2000, again for services to literature.

Richard Ruland is Professor Emeritus of English, American, and Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. After teaching in the English and American Studies programs at Yale University for several years, he has been a member of the English Department faculty at Washington University from 1967 until his recent retirement.


"Rarely has the national literature been made to cohere so convincingly: Ruland and Bradbury proceed smoothly from writer to writer, at every turn drawing illuminating connections…An elegant book."
The Washington Post

"Highly informative…a map of American literature that puts every writer in place."
The New York Times

"This is an excellent and readable survey of nearly 300 years of American writing and literary criticism in a flowing style that shows no signs of the tremendous concentration of information. Sure to become a classic; for general and special literature collections."
Library Journal

"…a sound, balanced account of how American writers created works that reflected a new nation with new experience, a new science and a new politics on a new continent,…this is a comprehensive, often vibrant history of how American writers declared independence from older European forms before making their own unique contributions to world literature."
Kirkus Reviews