By Nicholas Spencer
By means of constructing the concept that of serious area, After Utopia provides a brand new family tree of twentieth-century American fiction. Nicholas Spencer argues that the unconventional American fiction of Jack London, Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, and Josephine Herbst reimagines the spatial issues of past due nineteenth-century utopian American texts. rather than totally imagined utopian societies, such fiction depicts localized utopian areas that supply crucial aid for the types of heritage on which those authors concentration. within the midcentury novels of Mary McCarthy and Paul Goodman and the overdue twentieth-century fiction of Thomas Pynchon, William Gaddis, Joan Didion, and Don DeLillo, narratives of social area develop into decreasingly utopian and more and more serious. The hugely diversified "critical area" of such texts attains a place just like that loved by means of representations of old transformation in early twentieth-century radical American fiction. After Utopia reveals that imperative points of postmodern American novels derive from the brazenly political narratives of London, Sinclair, Dos Passos, and Herbst.Spencer makes a speciality of certain moments within the upward thrust of severe house in the past century and relates them to the writing of Georg Luk?cs, Ernst Bloch, Antonio Gramsci, Hannah Arendt, Henri Lefebvre, Gilles Deleuze and F?lix Guattari, and Paul Virilio. The systematic and genealogical stumble upon among serious conception and American fiction finds shut parallels among and unique analyses of those parts of twentieth-century cultural discourse.
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Additional info for After utopia: the rise of critical space in twentieth-century American fiction
Early on in the novel, Martin fails to discover the treasure that he seeks on his voyages. Also, after he has lost Ruth, Martin’s plan to sail to the South Seas and ﬁnd an island paradise ends up in failure and suicide. 8 On occasion, Martin does regard seafaring in terms of naturalist class struggle. For example, he identiﬁes sea labor with the naturalist struggle against captains and underwriters, “either of whom could and would break him and whose interests were diametrically opposed” (78). However, such conceptions of life on the sea are infrequent and unrepresentative.
Sinclair responds to such conﬂict by seeking to reconstruct socialist textuality rather than abandoning it for other versions of utopian naturalism. Sinclair’s relation to Lukács differs from that of London. Whereas London’s The Iron Heel articulates several models of historical process, Sinclair’s ﬁction primarily adheres to the deterministic naturalism that Lukács attacked. In his literary criticism of the 1930s, Lukács raises issues that highlight many attributes of Sinclair’s writing, 11 and in his attacks on the naturalist sensibility in ﬁction, Lukács often singles out Sinclair’s writing.
Martin attempts a return to working-class pastoral space when he visits the Bricklayers’ Picnic at Shell Mound Park, but his continued attachment to Ruth means that he does not regard the working-class picnic as a concrete utopia. He can only appreciate such spaces when they are gone. For example, he describes the radical discussion group that he visits with his friend Russ Brissenden as a “paradise,” and he thinks of his working-class life as “the Paradise he had lost” (453, 477–78). When he is among these spaces, his attachment to the spatiality he associates with Ruth prevents him from viewing them as scenarios of socialist possibility.
After utopia: the rise of critical space in twentieth-century American fiction by Nicholas Spencer