The dream of the great american novel ultimately affirms the importance of literature to a nations sense of itself sarah graham times literary supplement an astonishing feat of erudition the dream of the great american novel takes in all of american literature much of modern european literature and sizeable swaths of world literature it is a book intended to capture the curve of american history the sweep of american culture and the enigmas of national character and it . Figuratively speaking lawrence buell is juggling a lot of balls in the air in his fine book the dream of the great american novel he is a skilled juggler he doesnt drop any of the many balls he is juggling in addition he sings and dances along as he juggles his many balls hes a one man show a delightful showman. This 565 page study much longer than the great american novel should be is so long and myriad in its shifting focuses and seeming digressions as to defy useful summary and evaluation in a short review but the dream of the great american novel doesnt justify a long one. The dream of the great american novel gan was born a century and a half ago in the wake of the civil war although it soon degenerated into a media cliche that self respecting literary critics at least pretended not to take seriously it refused to die indeed the g a n as henry james of all people was the first to nickname it
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