Grief Taboo in American Literature: Loss and Prolonged Adolescence in Twain, Melville, and Hemingway

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NYU Press, 1997 - 372 Seiten

In this feminist rereading, Pamela A. Boker examines the prolonged adolescence of the American male in the works of three quintessential American male authors, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway, through a highly original psychoanalytic inquiry. Challenging conventional interpretations, Boker argues that failing to mourn loss and repressing one's true emotions do not demonstrate a heroic capacity, but rather, a damaging inability to work through psychological wounds that have not healed.
Boker locates in the lives and fiction of Melville, Twain, and Hemingway the suicidal orphan, the adolescent simultaneously seeking masculine maturity and escaping from it. She reveals a world of perpetual adolescence, repressed grief, and repudiation of feminine identification. All three writers lacked intimate relationships with their fathers and remained conflicted emotionally, a condition which profoundly influenced their creative work.In Melville's life and work, readers encounter aggressive and guilt ridden characters, trapped in infantile and early adolescent development. Similarly, Mark Twain enlisted humor and nostalgic fantasies of an ideal past in his avoidance of difficult emotions. Silent references and vague allusions to painful feelings proliferate the fiction of Hemingway. In seeking out the repressed vulnerability of the tough guy in American literature, Boker finds it where it is most vigorously denied.

 

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Inhalt

Introduction
1
The Eternal Return of Tabooed Grief in Melvilles MobyDick
38
DeprivationGrief and the Making of an American Humorist
68
Repressed Grief and Pathological Mourning in Mark Twains Fiction
103
FatherLoss and MotherHunger in the Great American Novel
137
MotherLoss and FatherHunger from In Our Time to Winner Take Nothing
166
Blunting the Edges of Perception in Hemingways Middle Period
207
Hemingways Bittersweet Taste of Nostalgia
249
Conclusion
287
Notes
301
Bibliography
339
Index
351
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Über den Autor (1997)

Pamela A. Boker teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

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