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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 6: The American Novel 1879-1940$
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Priscilla Wald and Michael A. Elliott

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385342

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195385342.001.0001

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The Depression and the Novel

The Depression and the Novel

(p.484) 30 The Depression and the Novel
The Oxford History of the Novel in English

Sonnet Retman

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the conventional Great Depression narrative as well as alternatives within and beyond its literary canon. It considers the complexity of the novel within the cultural politics of the period and the emergence of hybrid genres that signify a form of social protest by cohering specifically around the populist figure of the folk. It also examines these hybrid genres in relation to the realism and authenticity of narratives of self, community, and nation. Finally, the chapter looks at novels that reflect the so-called “literature of nationhood,” including Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road (1932), Mike Gold's Jews Without Money (1930), John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath (1939), and Richard Wright's Native Son (1940).

Keywords:   novel, Great Depression, cultural politics, hybrid genres, social protest, folk, realism, authenticity, literature of nationhood, John Steinbeck

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