No Accident, Comrade: Chance and Design in Cold War American Narratives

Paperback | January 15, 2014

bySteven Belletto

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No Accident, Comrade argues that chance became a complex yet conflicted cultural signifier during the Cold War, when a range of thinkers - politicians, novelists, historians, biologists, sociologists, and others - contended that totalitarianism denied the very existence and operation of chancein the world. They claimed that the USSR perpetrated a vast fiction on its population, a fiction amplified by the Soviet view that there is no such thing as chance or accident, only manifestations of historical law (hence the popular American refrain used to refer to Marxism: "It was no accident,Comrade").By reading an expansive range of American novels published between 1947-2005, alongside nonfiction texts by the likes of Jerzy Kosinski, Daniel Bell, Ian Hacking, and mid-century game theorists, No Accident, Comrade explains how associations of chance with democratic freedom and the denial of chancewith totalitarianism circulated in Cold War America. Chance became tied to the liberties of U.S. democracy, whereas its eradication or denial became symptomatic of Soviet tyranny. With works by Nabokov, Ellison, Pynchon, Didion, DeLillo, Colson Whitehead, and many others, Steven Belletto shows howwriters developed innovative strategies for dealing with and incorporating these ever-present beliefs about chance and its role in their culture. These newly developed narrative techniques allowed them to theorize, satirize, and make sense of the constantly changing relationship between the individual and the state during a largely rhetorical conflict.

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No Accident, Comrade argues that chance became a complex yet conflicted cultural signifier during the Cold War, when a range of thinkers - politicians, novelists, historians, biologists, sociologists, and others - contended that totalitarianism denied the very existence and operation of chancein the world. They claimed that the USSR pe...

Steven Belletto is assistant professor of English and chair of the American Studies program at Lafayette College.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:216 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:January 15, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199354359

ISBN - 13:9780199354351

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Table of Contents

1. Chance, Narrative, and the Logic of the Cold War2. Aesthetic Responses to Political Fictions: Pynchon and the Violence of Narrative Chance3. The Zemblan Who Came in from the Cold: Nabokov's Cold War4. Accidents Going Somewhere to Happen: African-American Self-Definition at Mid-Century5. The Game Theory Narrative and the Myth of the National Security State6. Their Country, Our Culture: The Persistence of the Cold WarCoda: Cold War MeaningBibliographyIndex