Philip F. Gura’s new book, Truth’s Ragged Edge, explores the development of early American fiction. An excerpt appears in the current issue of NER.
From the publisher: “Truth’s Ragged Edge is perhaps the first comprehensive study of the early American novel since Richard Chase’s 1957 classic, The American Novel and Its Tradition. Gura opens with the first truly homegrown genre of fiction: religious tracts, short parables intended to instruct the Christian reader. He then turns to the city novels of the 1830’s, which depicted with mixed feelings the rapid growth and modernization of American society. He concludes with fresh interpretations of the introspective novels that appeared before the Civil War, such as those by Hawthorne and by Melville, from whom Gura takes his title. The grand narrative sweep of the book is balanced by Gura’s great insight that the early novel never fully left its origins behind, even as it evolved—it remained a means of theological and philosophical dispute, and reflected the oldest and deepest divisions in American Christianity, politics, and culture.”
Philip F. Gura is the author of nine books and currently teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2008, Gura received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Division on American Literature to 1800 of the Modern Language Association. His essay “The Transcendentalist Commotion” appeared in NER 28.7.
Truth’s Ragged Edge is available at Powell’s and other booksellers.