Old World Journey
National Identity in Four American
Novels from 1960 to 1973
By Eva Zetterberg Pettersson
Studia Anglistica Upsaliensia, No. 127
Uppsala University Press
185 pages, 6 ½ x 9 ½”
$49.50 Paper Original
This is a Ph.D. dissertation. Does “Europe” retain any significance in American literature in the second half of the twentieth century, as the United States rises to superpower? Answering in the affirmative, this study claims that the Old World journey narrative, generally considered a dated mode of writing, lives on in the post-World-War-II period.
It survives in new guises and continues to be a forum for the discussion of American national identity. Studying four novels about Americans traveling to Europe published in the politically and culturally turbulent 1960s and early 1970s – William Styron’s Set this House on Fire (1960), Mary McCarthy’s Birds of America (1971), John A. Williams’ The Man Who Cried I Am (1967) and Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying (1973) – the present thesis examines the ways in which the European journey is utilized for a questioning of “America,” the United States as myth and Idea.
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