Introducing the Great American Novel

Ann Skillion, Editor, Anne Skillion, Photographer William Morrow & Company $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-07346-6
These introductions, collected by Skillion, a research librarian at the New York Public Library, illustrate how, in a few short pages, an introduction can help readers understand the author and the introducer and even, according to author Plimpton, ""resurrect and promote the work itself.'' Some introductions intrigue: ``I experienced a singular sensation on reading the first sentence of A Farewell to Arms,'' begins Ford Madox Ford; and T. S. Eliot compares Twain's ``commonplace'' Tom Sawyer to his ``unique'' Huckleberry Finn. Yet, despite the interesting array of material, for the most part the introductions are teasers that do not satiate or stand on their own. The most fulfilling selections, then, are those, like David Bradley's on Wright's Native Son, originally written as independent essays. More disturbing, however, is the book's exclusivity. Other than virtually obligatory introductionsabout Ralph Ellison or Harriet Beecher Stowe, for exampleSkillion perpetuates an outdated, white male literary canon. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
Paperback - 978-0-688-08065-5
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