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What America ReadTaste, Class, and the Novel, 1920-1960$
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Gordon Hutner

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780807832271

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807887752_hutner

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The 1940s

The 1940s

(p.194) Three The 1940s
What America Read

Gordon Hutner

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter begins by studying early 1940s critical values, first by reading such key cultural texts as Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book and Reinhold Niebuhr's Faith for Living, among other important works of the first two years of the decade, to help recuperate the kind of fiction that educated Americans were reading before Pearl Harbor, and to trace the continuities in their taste through the war years and after. To that end, the chapter also looks at homefront writing, homecoming novels, and the postwar social environment by focusing on the tradition of middle-class realism, a survey that settles on two well-known problem novels of the day, Lillian Smith's Strange Fruit and Laura Hobson's Gentleman's Agreement.

Keywords:   Mortimer Adler, Reinhold Niebuhr, educated Americans, Pearl Harbor, Lillian Smith, Laura Hobson

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