Saturday, November 16, 2019

"A" Great Amercian Novel

Tyler Malone has an interesting short essay in The Fall, 2019 issue of the Hedgehog Review entitled, "An Ever More Perfect Novel".

He writes that the idea of "The" Great American Novel was born in 1868 in an article in The Nation magazine written by John William DeForest where he wrote that the best American novel would be "the picture of the ordinary emotions and manners of American existence."

Suggestions have been made for the winner of the Great American Novel accolade such as Moby-Dick, The Great Gatsby, Uncle Tom's Cabin, To Kill A Mocking Bird, and many others.

At the end of the essay, Malone opines that since America is always changing there never can be "The" Great American Novel, but prefers to think of the idea as "A" Great American Novel. In other words, I think Malone is saying that as times change, the novel that best captures the identity of the American Spirit will change as well.

As an amateur sociologist, I tend to think about this question as generational. We have the Depression generation, the Greatest generation who fought World War II, the Boomers, the Gen xers, the Millential's and now Gen Z. So if you have to pick A Great American Novel for each of these generations which novel would you nominate. I'd open it up for non fiction nominations too.

What fiction and nonfiction books best exemplify the American experience in each of the above mentioned generations?

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