E. L. Doctorow’s Skeptical Commitment by Michelle M. Tokarczyk

By Michelle M. Tokarczyk

This ebook provides a political interpreting of E. L. Doctorow’s fiction. For Doctorow, there has been a rigidity among the beliefs of his socially conscious relatives and people of the recent critics lower than whom he studied as an undergraduate. This stress, making him skeptical concerning the chances of political involvement, has been worthwhile since it has enabled Doctorow to prevent the excesses of either polemical writing and formalism. via a stance Tokarczyk phrases «skeptical dedication» he has written political fiction of excessive literary caliber. partially, he has performed so by way of adapting genres akin to the western and the romance. in addition, Doctorow has used experimental suggestions to specific political and old topics, thereby writing one of those postmodern fiction that also continues the potential of developing a few truths, whereas acknowledging indeterminacy.

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As a 1970s adaptation of this genre, Loon Lake examines parallel lives of working-class characters, focuses on union activity, and reconfigures a bourgeois plot. The novel might disappoint some dogmatic radicals, however, for it depicts assimilation rather than radicalization and deals with issues such as complicity and betrayal. While the 1930s proletarian novel often eschewed experimentation, Loon Lake is highly innovative and challenging. Initially, it is difficult to determine whether Joe or Penfield is narrating.

All of it was to be destroyed anyway, even without me” (35). Like so much of Doctorow’s work, “Willi” suggests the impossibility of isolating private tragedy from political turmoil. While most of Doctorow’s fiction is about males and often about male themes (such as searching for a father figure), as Harter and Thompson point out “The Hunter” is unusual in that it is written from a woman’s point of view (107). The female voice and experience of becoming interested in a man who sees her only as a sex object are gender specific, but her loneliness and alienation are common to many of the male characters in this book.

Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets, in contrast, focused on individual lives. Interestingly, scholars have pointed out that the critical judgments in Johnson’s biographies obviously bear the stamp of his neoclassical time (Hardy vii–xv). Hence, the allusion to Johnson’s work suggests that the writer is constructed by his time and his literary cohorts. Praxis, Identity, and the American Writer 31  Lives of the Poets might be read as a model, or perhaps a parody, of the diminished fiction against which Doctorow has cautioned.

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