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Long before American tourists had a reputation for wearing board shorts and fanny-packs to the Vatican, Henry James was hoping to get a grip on what makes Americans tick. After all, by the time James fell The American in 1876, the U.S. had had a hundred years to find out a national identity. And James was writing in annually chock-full of important American events. We are speaking the dirtiest presidential election of all time, the founding of baseball's National League, along with the patent......Read More
The Grapes of Wrath pretty much has a V.I.P. pass to each "Top 100 Books of All Time" list in the world. It is a massive deal. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 and aided John Steinbeck nab the Nobel Prize in 1962--they gave Steinbeck the Nobel for (among other things) that his "keen social perception." This comprehension of society's ills is razor sharp, and cuts deep. And lots of this has to do with the fact that this novel is brutally honest. In the time of the Dust Bowl, when tens of......Read More
Henrik Ibsen is sort of a big deal. Following William Shakespeare, he is the most frequently produced dramatist ever in history. A Norwegian playwright writing in the last half of the 19th century, Ibsen is known as "the father of modern drama." Because he wrote in a then new realist fashion -- covering everyday topics and ordinary folks -- he set the platform for many realist authors to come, among them the very famous Anton Chekhov. Ibsen demonstrated that with quite realistic settings,......Read More
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