Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Happy Birthday, Leslie Fiedler

I stole the following comments from The Writer's Almanac. Many years ago (40!) I read Love and Death in the American Novel for the first time. It was a revelation to me, a way of writing about literature I'd never encountered before. George Kelley, well aware of my admiration for the book, was lucky enough to have Fiedler on his dissertation committee and got me a signed copy of the book. Thanks again, George.

It's the birthday of the literary critic Leslie Fielder, (books by this author) born in Newark, New Jersey (1917). He's best known for his book Love and Death in the American Novel (1960). He was one of the first American critics to argue in favor of popular culture. He loved comic books and horror movies and soap operas, and he once said that the only writer of the late 20th century who would be remembered was Stephen King. He believed that the great theme of American literature was the search for identity. He said, "Americans have no real identity. We're all ... uprooted people who come from elsewhere."


Tribe said...

Bill, I never realized Fiedler was a junk culture aficionado...I do remember Love and Death with fondness. On the other hand, and it is unfortunate, he's probably best remembered for the out of context interpretation made by the ignorant that Tom and Huck were lovers.

Unknown said...

Yeah, that's the money quote. I'm not even sure Fiedler said it quite the way it's often repeated.