Spring 2020 catalog cover

The Penn Press list for spring 2020 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

Designs of Darkness in Contemporary American Fiction

Arthur M. Saltzman

168 pages | 6 x 9
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512806687 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

"Saltzman's presentation is informative and attractive; his style is clear and witty, and he brings into the discussion his capacious knowledge of contemporary American fiction. . . . A valuable contribution to the ongoing work of contemporary American fiction. . . . Saltzman bring to this project a synthesizing intelligence and a currency regarding issues of ethics and canonicity that give this work its own appeal and popularity."—Patrick O'Donnell, Eberly Professor of American Literature, West Virginia University
In Designs of Darkness, Arthur M. Saltzman examines some of the ways in which fiction has traditionally conspired to promote a goal-oriented vision of the work of art—and explores the ways in which postmodern (or postrealist) fiction consistently and unavoidably subverts the clarity of this vision. Offering readings of works by well-known authors, including Barthelme, Doctorow, DeLillo, and Hakes, as well as works by lesser-known writers (Auster, Gangemi), Saltzman concentrates on the breakdown of epiphany in recent fiction, both as philosophical motive and as structural foundation.

In contemporary fiction, Saltzman contends, ambiguities blossom far beyond our capacities to stabilize, summarize, or restore them to sense. The old rules of the game—in which a reader looking for truth can expect come sort of satisfactory resolution—no longer apply. Literature now comes out of the answerless.

Designs of Darkness in Contemporary American Fiction is a valuable new resource for scholars and students of contemporary literature.

Arthur M. Saltzman was Professor of English at Missouri Southern State College. His previous books are The Fiction of William Gass: The Consolation of Language and Understanding Raymond Carver.

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