By Samuel Cohen
During this daring ebook, Samuel Cohen asserts the literary and historic value of the interval among the autumn of the Berlin wall and that of the dual Towers in ny. With fresh readability, he examines six Nineteen Nineties novels and post-9/11 novels that discover the impression of the top of the chilly struggle: Pynchon's Mason & Dixon, Roth's American Pastoral, Morrison's Paradise, O'Brien's within the Lake of the Woods, Didion's the very last thing He sought after, Eugenides's Middlesex, Lethem's citadel of Solitude, and DeLillo's Underworld. Cohen emphasizes how those works reconnect the earlier to a gift that's paradoxically partial to denying that connection. Exploring the methods rules approximately paradise and pastoral, distinction and exclusion, innocence and righteousness, triumph and trauma deform the tales americans inform themselves approximately their nation’s prior, After the tip of background demanding situations us to re-evaluate those works in a brand new mild, providing clean, insightful readings of what are destined to be vintage works of literature. even as, Cohen enters into the theoretical dialogue approximately postmodern historic knowing. Throwing his hat within the ring with strength and elegance, he confronts not just Francis Fukuyama’s triumphalist reaction to the autumn of the Soviet Union but additionally the opposite literary and political “end of historical past” claims placed forth through such theorists as Fredric Jameson and Walter Benn Michaels. In an easy, affecting type, After the tip of historical past deals us a brand new imaginative and prescient for the functions and confines of latest fiction.
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Extra resources for After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s
Christ Mason . . Where does it end? No matter where in it we go, shall we find all the World Tyrants and Slaves? America was the one place we should not have found them. (692–93) Finding all the world tyrants and slaves means uncovering a shameful secret, a concealed truth of the Enlightenment world, mason & dixon and the amper sand 39 namely that freedom is reserved only for some. Even an incipient America, a land soon to proclaim all men equal, hides this truth, and not very well. Near the end of their time in America, Dixon tears the whip from the hand of a slave driver busy beating his property, whom Dixon frees.
Ge mason & dixon and the amper sand 35 ometry exists in the abstract, as do laws of gravity and movement; all are assumed to be independent in their own right. However, in their embodiment in concrete particular instances, they depend on people believing in them, understanding them, and applying them. From particular positions and with precision instruments, Mason and Dixon are able not just to chart the movement of heavenly bodies but also to divide the earth by degrees, to establish where every part of the earth is in relation to every other part, but their ability depends in the end on their belief.
2 Mason & Dixon has been widely seen to have a warmth lacking in these earlier works, and this perception is due in large part to the way Pynchon draws these two men, separately and together. The stories of their lives before and after their partnership create sympathy for them as individuals; and their story together — stumbling across America, completing a task whose meaning dawns slowly upon them, and supporting each other as it does — creates sympathy for them as a pair. As Michael Wood writes, we see them arguing, Anglican against Quaker, mystic against rationalist, and finally discovering that their need and respect for each other, in spite of the frequent acidity of their exchanges and their constant mutual fending off of real intimacies, the drawing of a sort of line between Mason and Dixon, add up to a form of passion, indeed the central passion and care of their lives.