This title, originally published in 1985, examines conceptions of success and the good life expressed in bestselling novels – ranging from historical sagas and spy thrillers to more serious works by Updike, Bellows, Steinbeck and Mailer – published from 1945 to 1975. Using these popular books as cultural evidence, Elizabeth Long argues that the meaning of the American dream has changed dramatically, but in a more complex fashion than has been recognised by that country’s most prominent social critics. Her study presents a challenge to prevailing social-scientific views of contemporary American culture, and represents, both in theory and method, an important contribution to the study of culture and social criticism.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction 2. Success in Bestselling Novels: The Social Context of Thematic Content 3. Bestselling Novels 1945-1955: From Entrepreneurial Adventure to Corporate-Suburban Compromise 4. Bestselling Novels 1956-1968: The Varieties of Self-Fulfilment – The Goal Achieved 5. Bestselling Novels 1969-1975: The Failure of Success 6. The Social Critics 7. Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index