Northrop Frye and American Fiction
Published: January 2015© 2014
248 Pages, 6.48 x 9.30 x 0.90 in, 2 figures
Northrop Frye and American Fiction challenges recent interpretations of American fiction as a secular pursuit that long ago abandoned religious faith and the idea of transcendent experiences. Inspired by recent philosophical thinking on post-secularism and by Northrop Frye’s theorizing on the connections between the Bible and the development of Western literature, Claude Le Fustec presents insightful readings of the presence of transcendence and biblical imagination in canonical novels by American writers ranging from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Toni Morrison.
Examining these novels through the lens of Frye’s ambitious account of literature’s transcendent, or kerygmatic power, Le Fustec argues that American fiction has always contained the seeds of a rejection of radical skepticism and a return to spiritual experience. Beyond an insightful analysis of Frye’s ideas, Northrop Frye and American Fiction is powerful testimony of their continued interpretive potential.
Introduction: Re-Enchantment, Post-Secularity and the Return of Transcendence in Western Culture
1. The Scarlet Letter: Puritan Imagination and the Kerygmatic Power of Sin
2. Henry James’s The Europeans: Secularity and the Descent of the Word
3. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: Modernism and the Death of the Word
4. Immanent Christianity in The Grapes of Wrath
5. “In the Name of the Lost Father”: Postsecular Mysticism in On the Road
6. “I Will Call Them My People”: Toni Morrison’s Postsecular Gospel of Self and Community
Conclusion: Kerygma and the Promises of Post-Secular Imagination in Postmodern Times
“Northrop Frye and American Fiction is an intellectually ambitious contribution to current discussions about a return to the idea of transcendence. Le Fustec’s use of Frye’s theories is illuminating, and her readings are rich and nuanced.”Alvin Lee, General Editor of The Collected Works of Northrop Frye
“Claude Le Fustec brings an enviable knowledge of postmodern theology to her readings of canonical American works of fiction. A genuine contribution to Frye studies.”Joseph Adamson, Department of English, McMaster University
“It is refreshing to see Frye’s theories applied to works he may not even have read, and enlightening to see how the works respond to such treatment. Le Fustec has a sharp eye for imagery, allusions, and key passages.”Michael Dolzani, Department of English, Baldwin-Wallace College