The Pleasures of Babel: Contemporary American Literature and Theory

Paperback | September 1, 1994

byJay Clayton

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The Pleasures of Babel acquaints the layperson and the expert alike with the creative and intellectual achievements of America's multicultural society. Arguing that the present is "a great period of writing," Jay Clayton relates novels from the seventies, eighties, and nineties to the latestdevelopments in literary theory. He offers a lucid, cutting-edge look at the often stormy relationship between contemporary literature and criticism. Avoiding theoretical jargon, Clayton systematically sets out to make sense of the critical movements of the last two decades: deconstruction,psychoanalysis, minority writing, multiculturalism, and feminism. In the course of clarifying the accomplishments of Barthes, Kristeva, Lyotard, Said, and others, the author discusses some of America's most prominent writers of fiction: Saul Bellow, Sandra Cisneros, E.L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, andmany others. The result successfully weds a layperson's guide to recent criticism with a scholarly application of that criticism to the very works it concerns. In light of the current debates being waged over the canon and multiculturalism, The Pleasures of Babel should prove an indispensable toolfor those engaged in the practice of literary criticism, as well as anyone concerned with the way in which narrative interacts with society.

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The Pleasures of Babel acquaints the layperson and the expert alike with the creative and intellectual achievements of America's multicultural society. Arguing that the present is "a great period of writing," Jay Clayton relates novels from the seventies, eighties, and nineties to the latestdevelopments in literary theory. He offers a ...

Jay Clayton is at Vanderbilt University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 8.27 × 5.43 × 0.47 inPublished:September 1, 1994Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195083733

ISBN - 13:9780195083736

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"The often acrimonious media coverage on issues of multiculturalism and the canon has prepared a significant general readership who should welcome Clayton because he combines lucidity and unpretentiousness with high intelligence and an extraordinary range of reference. The result is the singlebest brief introduction I know to American prose of the last twenty-five years."--Jonathan Arac, University of Pittsburgh