Drawing on modern studies of rhetoric and the concept of the Trickster, the author examines Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Nathanael West as creators of a fictive experience centered in deceptive or problematic transactions of confidence.
The model of a confidence game, suggested by the writers' own thematic preoccupations, permits an analysis of the social motivations inherent in the fiction. The author concentrates on the process by which confidence is established and the ways in which deception leads to regeneration and an altered perception of authority. His approach increases our understanding of the interrelation between the writer, his reader, and the world each envisions.
Warwick Wadlington examines individual texts, as well as the pattern of each writer's total work. His book distinctively combines an enlarging archetypal frame with rhetorical analysis of the writer-reader imaginative act. Treated as different forms of a coherent mode of fictive experience, the works of these important authors illuminate each other. Professor Wadlington's method results in decisively new readings of each text and contributes to a phenomenology of reading three writers whose works represent crucial "moments" in the artist-audience negotiation of mutual faith.
Originally published in 1975.
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