After utopia: the rise of critical space in by Nicholas Spencer

By Nicholas Spencer

Through constructing the idea that of severe area, After Utopia offers a brand new family tree of twentieth-century American fiction. Nicholas Spencer argues that the novel American fiction of Jack London, Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, and Josephine Herbst reimagines the spatial issues of overdue nineteenth-century utopian American texts. rather than absolutely imagined utopian societies, such fiction depicts localized utopian areas that offer crucial aid for the versions of historical past 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 turn into decreasingly utopian and more and more serious. The hugely various "critical house" of such texts attains a place just like that loved by way of representations of historic transformation in early twentieth-century radical American fiction. After Utopia unearths that valuable elements of postmodern American novels derive from the openly political narratives of London, Sinclair, Dos Passos, and Herbst.Spencer makes a speciality of specific moments within the upward push of serious house up to now 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 severe concept and American fiction finds shut parallels among and unique analyses of those parts of twentieth-century cultural discourse.

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Extra resources for After utopia: the rise of critical space in twentieth-century American fiction

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In Lukács’s account, economic fatalism and anarchistic nihilism both conspire to thwart effective revolutionary action. In the latter chapters of The Iron Heel, Everhard exhibits several Lukácsian characteristics. The growing strength of the Oligarchy creates an economic crisis that engenders mass support for the Democratic Socialist Party. The Socialists are successful in the elections of 1912, and Everhard is elected to Congress. Because they interpret these events in terms of “theoretical social evolution” and regard the Oligarchy as a theoretical aberration (175), Everhard’s fellow party members are confident of the imminent defeat of the Oligarchy.

The critique of spontaneism is most apparent in the novel’s finale. As the revolutionists are preparing their First Revolt, the Oligarchy provokes an uprising in Chicago. During the chaos that ensues, “the people of the abyss” are described as “a raging, screaming, screeching demoniacal horde” (326, 327). By describing the lower classes of Chicago in such dehumanized terms, London suggests that the people of the abyss lack political agency, and thus he refutes the theory of spontaneism. Along with his repeated criticisms of the direct action of bomb-throwing anarchists, London’s narration of the Chicago Commune reflects a belief in the need for revolutionary control that is also expressed by Lukács.

As Eric Homberger argues, The Iron Heel consists of “two distinct books” (16), one that describes the optimism of conversion to socialism and another that portrays the ineffectivity of socialist attempts to combat the Oligarchy. In the transition from the first to the second of these narratives, those other forms of naturalist determinism that class struggle had originally synthesized become more prominent. Specifically, the Marxist vision of future society is couched increasingly as a Nietzschean appeal to Spencerian processes.

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