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A Mirror in the Roadway:
Literature and the Real World
Morris Dickstein

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [HTML] or [PDF format]


"Twenty illuminating essays . . . on literature's elusive, prophetic interpretations of a changing American society. . . . A fine, accessible collection."--Kirkus Reviews

"If Mr. Dickstein were a less intelligent critic, his book might be more aggressively polemical. As it is, what he offers is . . . a series of thoughtful studies. The book makes one envy Mr. Dickstein's students who get to be introduced to these writers . . . by a critic of such warm and varied sympathies. And even an experienced reader will make some new acquaintance in these pages."--Adam Kirsch, The New York Sun

"[An] admirable new collection of critical essays. . . . [E]very page in the volume displays curiosity, incision and surprise."--Ilan Stavans, Forward

"A particular strength of this volume is its deft combination of historical and formal reading practices; Dickinson brings together literature's social and aesthetic registers to produce insightful discussion of canonical authors. . . . A strong contribution to American literary criticism."--Choice

"Good news is at hand, and Morris Dickstein's new book is an example of it. He actually enjoys talking with us about literature, here mainly the novel."--Jeffrey Hart, National Review

"Dickstein wants to show that the real world counts, and suffuses fictions. . . . Weve learned . . . to see Stendhal better and to regard novels not so much as mirrors but as "prisms" with many facets that refract and refresh the world we know."--Jay Martin, Antioch Review


"This is a book by one of our best and most distinguished critics of American literature."--Norman Mailer, author

"Morris Dickstein's A Mirror in the Roadway is refreshing criticism, particularly in its contrast to our current chorus of Resentment. Like Edmund Wilson, his precursor, Dickstein favors realism and reality over theories of theories. Dickstein is admirable on Jewish writers (Kafka, Agnon, Bellow, Malamud, Philip Roth, Ozick) who in a sense are his true subject."--Harold Bloom, author and literary critic

"Morris Dickstein gives the phrase 'the art of criticism' real meaning. He makes literature in writing about literature. His essays are rare birds. They only soar."--Roger Rosenblatt, commentator and journalist

"Morris Dickstein is one of the few critics who still can bridge, vigorously and engagingly, the gap between the academic world and the common reader. These essays are especially fine on American writing of the 1920's and 30's, exhibiting balanced judgment, insight, and a rich fund of knowledge about American literary and cultural history. One can apply to Dickstein a phrase he uses for Edmund Wilson--that he is able to apply a wide range of resources "to hold fast to the elusive human dimension of literature."--Robert Alter, University of California, Berkeley

"In arguing for an exuberant and dynamic notion of realism, Morris Dickstein reanimates a great and nearly vanished tradition of literary and cultural criticism that speaks to the common reader."--Ross Posnock, New York University

"Dickstein's essays are original, genially reflective and, at apt moments, invitingly autobiographical. He consistently shows himself to be a fair-minded but exacting critic who is not afraid to tell us what books are worth reading and why. His critical commentaries are saturated with the knowledge accumulated over years of attentive and sympathetic encounters with some of the most distinctive writers of modern American and European letters."--Maria DiBattista, Princeton University

"Morris Dickstein has neither theories nor hobbyhorses. His critical tools are the old fashioned ones: a vast range of reading, fellow feeling for the author he is discussing, and the urge to put the work in the context of the life. He is as illuminating about Cather as about Celine, as perceptive about Philip Roth as about Upton Sinclair."--Richard Rorty, Stanford University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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