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fanuzzir
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Registered: ‎10-22-2006
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Re: The Great American Novel

Wonderful additon to this non-American American classic list! This might be the book club that finally gets me to read Lolita, by the way. I've seen two movie versions so far, but there are devotees out there who say its commentary on the US is the real focus of the novel.
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holyboy
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Re: The Great American Novel



elf67 wrote:
I would agree with "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "The Great Gatsby," and others chosen here; I'd probably go with "The Sun Also Rises"" over "The Old Man and the Sea" if I had to pick a Hemingway novel.

But I'm not sure how I would define what makes a novel "A Great American Novel." Does it have to comment overtly on the state of America in its time? Does have to be set in America? Does it have to be explicitly socially conscious, like "The Grapes of Wrath"? Or can it be implicitly socially conscious, like "Huckleberry Finn"? Maybe just any masterpiece of a novel writeen by an American is enough; that seems like a high enough hurdle.





I started out making a list of Great American Novels by decade, but then realized the futility of so doing. Think that to be considered as THE 'GAN,' any book would have to say something definitive about the American character.
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holyboy
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Re: The Great American Novel

I don't think it has to do with decades or eras. I think the GAN has to do with exemplifying the American character.
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Laurel
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Great American Novel QUIZ

Here's a Great American Novel Quiz. I failed miserably. You might have to register to get in, but it's painless. Failure isn't.

http://books.guardian.co.uk/quiz/questions/0,,1955336,00.html?
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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holyboy
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Re: Great American Novel QUIZ

Missed four Laurel.
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Laurel
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Re: Great American Novel QUIZ



holyboy wrote:
Missed four Laurel.




Amazing! It's back to school for me.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Choisya
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Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: The Great American Novel



fanuzzir wrote:
Henry James never had pizza, although he spent lots of time in Italy. He was emphatically convinced that the U. S. could never produce a great novel. Of course, we all disagree, I think, though I do think that the Great American Novel has to represent what is common and homely about the United States. There's alot to choose from there . . . But then there's Gatsby, so Robert Redford, clean and pressed. How doe she fit in?




I would not agree that the Great American Novels, or great novels of any country, have to represent what is 'common and homely'. Many great novels tackle difficult subjects dealing with the uncommon and ugly - Moby Dick for instance:smileyhappy: I suppose 'great' must be judged by the test of time. If they have stayed in print and at the top of the bestseller lists for 50-100-150 years, that should show they are of worth to a great many people. It is much more difficult to judge which modern novels will become great.
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Sensorymoments
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Registered: ‎10-25-2006
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Re: The Great American Novel



fanuzzir wrote:
Who do you think the common American is there? Nick? Tom? or Jay Gatz?





I think Nick was what I deem most American, but together, all the characters make up what is so "American"
Owy

*Taking everyday, one book at a time*
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swobe
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Great American Novel

Of course anyone's choice for "the great American novel" is a purely subjective choice. And as evidenced by the discussion there are quite a few nominee's and there also is also some concensus around several great works. The difficulty is is in choosing one book. Like so many I want to post a list of several great american novelS. My list would include; Moby Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye. I don't include any newer works simply because I think it's premature to consider anything classic that has not yet endured the test of time. And while I am a huge fan of Hemingway I think his best works are set in Europe and may not make them good fodder for greatest american novel status. If I have to choose one off my list... I guess I'll go with Huck Finn.
Far and Sure
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holyboy
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Re: Great American Novel QUIZ



Laurel wrote:


holyboy wrote:
Missed four Laurel.




Amazing! It's back to school for me.




No Laurel. I'm not sure that it was a very fair test! I'd not have known that Edith Wharton had won the Legion of Honor, but I just read her bio the previous day.
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fanuzzir
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Re: The Great American Novel

I can't get away from that choice either. There is something so cumulative about that novel, from the perspective of the great themes of the nineteenth century: frontier adventure, slavery, escape, etc.
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JaneGallagher
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Re: The Great American Novel

Was Norman Mailers "The Executioners Song" also described to be a great american novel. Somehow I imagine such a book to be a long work.
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fanuzzir
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Re: The Great American Novel

I haven't heard that novel make the list, though it is certainly one of Mailer's greatest. Have you read Armies of the Night?
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Ben-Casey
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Re: The Great American Novel

I agree with the thought that Huck Finn is one of the best American novels. The others I do not think will fulfill the test of time. Perhaps Moby Dick and one of Faulkner's such as Light in August or The Sound and The Fury. There are so many great novels that to pick even three is a herculean task.

Ben-Casey
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Mother_of_Five
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Re: Great American Novel QUIZ

I think "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" is a great example of a Great American Novel. The story of a young girl growing up in Brooklyn NY around the turn of the century. This book shows the innocence and grit of a young girl, culture and nation. The difficulties and rewards of the "mixing pot" that is America reverberates through this book.
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Timbuktu1
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Re: Great American Novel QUIZ



Mother_of_Five wrote:
I think "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" is a great example of a Great American Novel. The story of a young girl growing up in Brooklyn NY around the turn of the century. This book shows the innocence and grit of a young girl, culture and nation. The difficulties and rewards of the "mixing pot" that is America reverberates through this book.




Having grown up in Brooklyn, loving to read and loving my father, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a personal favorite.

But as for THE great American Novel, it has to be Huckleberry Finn. It's a masterpiece. The intertwining of the love of freedom, equality, and independent thought sums up America to me.
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Great American Novel QUIZ



Timbuktu1 wrote:


Mother_of_Five wrote:
I think "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" is a great example of a Great American Novel. The story of a young girl growing up in Brooklyn NY around the turn of the century. This book shows the innocence and grit of a young girl, culture and nation. The difficulties and rewards of the "mixing pot" that is America reverberates through this book.




Having grown up in Brooklyn, loving to read and loving my father, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a personal favorite.

But as for THE great American Novel, it has to be Huckleberry Finn. It's a masterpiece. The intertwining of the love of freedom, equality, and independent thought sums up America to me.


I think it really would be hard to have One Great American Novel.  I love Tom Sawyer's adventures and Huckleberry and The tree grows in Brooklyn.  and so many more. Oh! of course The Great Gatsby has to be in there also. And to kill a Mockingbird and of course Scarlett and Rhett Butler.
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Kwaidan
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Registered: ‎06-19-2008
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Re: The Great American Novel



LitWit20 wrote:
Since this group is dedicated solely to the reading of American classics, I was wondering what everyone on here considered the great American novel? It's a phrase that is thrown around so much and it can be something different to each person. I think the major three are Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, and The Old Man and the Sea. What are your picks and what do you think makes the great american novel?




How about "The Great American Novel" by Philip Roth? In it he lampoons the quest for that elusive tome while at the same time commenting on those works usually offered up as leading candidates - Moby-Dick, The Old Man and the Sea, and Huck Finn. While not completely successful in claiming the crown of GAN (I suspect it was a goal that he wasn't shooting for)Roth does manage to discuss writing as a vocation (the narrator is a sportswriter named Word Smith) as well as 20th century American Culture by invoking The House of UnAmerican Activities, the trials and tribulations of the worst ever professional baseball team(the Port Rupert Mundys are the only team without a home field), and the great strikeout pitcher Gil Gamesh (ie: the ancient Sumerian epic of "Gilgamesh").

In a nutshell, the book is a self-conscious poke in the ribs at academics, American institutions,, and the quest for the GAN itself.

cheers,
jb
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Timbuktu1
Posts: 1,572
Registered: ‎12-31-2007
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Re: The Great American Novel



Kwaidan wrote:


LitWit20 wrote:
Since this group is dedicated solely to the reading of American classics, I was wondering what everyone on here considered the great American novel? It's a phrase that is thrown around so much and it can be something different to each person. I think the major three are Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, and The Old Man and the Sea. What are your picks and what do you think makes the great american novel?




How about "The Great American Novel" by Philip Roth? In it he lampoons the quest for that elusive tome while at the same time commenting on those works usually offered up as leading candidates - Moby-Dick, The Old Man and the Sea, and Huck Finn. While not completely successful in claiming the crown of GAN (I suspect it was a goal that he wasn't shooting for)Roth does manage to discuss writing as a vocation (the narrator is a sportswriter named Word Smith) as well as 20th century American Culture by invoking The House of UnAmerican Activities, the trials and tribulations of the worst ever professional baseball team(the Port Rupert Mundys are the only team without a home field), and the great strikeout pitcher Gil Gamesh (ie: the ancient Sumerian epic of "Gilgamesh").

In a nutshell, the book is a self-conscious poke in the ribs at academics, American institutions,, and the quest for the GAN itself.

cheers,
jb





I hadn't heard of that one, thanks for telling us about it. I love Philip Roth and will look for his GAN.
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Mundamos
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Registered: ‎07-20-2008
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Re: The Great American Novel

[ Edited ]

I agree with many of the selections that have been posted.  As I've read through the previous posts I've found that there are similar characteristics used to define "The Great American Novel".  Below I've listed the three characteristics that many of the previous posters would probably agree with.

 

1. The Common Man - Common in the sense that the main character is given both strength and flaws that allow the reader to take interest in the main character's decisions and behaviors

 

2. American Dialog -  The dialog between characters along with characters inner thoughts are    presented to the reader poignantly and unfiltered

 

3. Individualism - Characters especially the main characters are many times striving to be recognized as

individuals and not simply as part of an overall storyline

 

Using the above qualifiers I've listed three novels, out the many deserving, that I believe are Great American Novels.

 

1. The Grapes of Wrath

2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

3. Invisible Man

 

Other classics - Catcher and the Rye, Atlas Shrugged, To Kill a Mockingbird

 

I also agree with Danielle7 that just about all of Steinbeck's work could be consider American Classics.

Message Edited by Mundamos on 07-20-2008 09:04 PM
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