American Literature and the Free Market, 1945-2000 by Michael W. Clune

By Michael W. Clune

The years after global struggle have noticeable a common fascination with the unfastened industry. Michael W. Clune considers this fascination in postwar literature. within the fictional worlds created through works starting from Frank O'Hara's poetry to nineties gangster rap, the marketplace is remodeled, delivering an alternate type of lifestyles, detailed from either the social visions of the left and the individualist ethos of the proper. those principles additionally offer an unsettling instance of ways paintings takes on social strength by means of providing an get away from society. American Literature and the unfastened industry provides a brand new viewpoint on a couple of huge ranging works for readers of yankee post-war literature.

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The special structure of JR’s first-person awareness accounts for his insanely successful career. The modern image of the entrepreneur is of innovative individuals, like Dreiser’s Frank Cowperwood, who have a heroic ability to outguess or “beat” the market. ” Such individuals rely for their success on knowledge, “instinct,” or intelligence that places them in a privileged position above the market. Cowperwood, for example, does not believe in the information conveyed by price. 34 Cowperwood relies on his own analysis of underlying social and economic conditions, an analysis at odds with the picture presented by falling prices.

And in JR’s fictional world, everything has a price. Instead of a mechanism for mediating between the desires, expectations, and perceptions of separate individuals, the market looks like a mode of generating desire and perception. It looks like a subject. 35 Gaddis’ critics, who see this novel, along with much of the rest of postwar literature, as a story about the death of subjectivity, miss this point. ”â•›36 But this imagines a discrepancy between individual intention and underlying system.

The plot of The Bell Jar dramatizes the emergence of this new consciousness. It is invoked in the opening scene in the bath; towards the end of the novel it speaks in Esther’s voice. “I was perfectly free,” she comments, coming to the end of a list of people with whom she no longer has relations. Her attention is tuned to an absorbed, ecstatic inwardness:€“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am” (BJ 289). This new subject, freed from intersubjectivity, echoes throughout the late poems:€“And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself … how free it is, you have no idea how free” (“Tulips,” CPSP 161).

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