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Jonathan Franzen

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments List of Abbreviations Preface Introductory Chapter One - Becoming Jonathan Franzen Chapter Two - A Bugged World: The Twenty-Seventh City Chapter Three - Something Wrong in the Underbrush: Strong Motion Chapter Four - Status and Contract, Collapse and Arrival Chapter Five - All in the Family: The Corrections Chapter Six - Taking and Mistaking: Freedom Chapter Seven - The New Yorker Afterword - Hungering for Clean: Purity Index

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The first critical biography of Jonathan Franzen, exploring the trajectory of his career and the intersections of his life and work.

About the Author

Philip Weinstein is the Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English at Swarthmore College, USA. The recipient of several NEH Fellowships and an ACLS Fellowship, and past President of the Faulkner Society, Weinstein has written books that range from James to Faulkner and Morrison (in American literature), and from Dickens through Joyce (in British literature). These include Faulkner's Subject: A Cosmos No One Owns (1992), What Else But Love? The Ordeal of Race in Faulkner and Morrison (1996), Unknowing: The Work of Modernist Fiction (2005). Weinstein's Becoming Faulkner (2010) was the recipient of the Hugh Holman Award for the best book written on Southern Literature. He is also the editor of The Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner (1995).


...synthesizes from Franzen's conversations and correspondence with Weinstein, extant interviews, and Franzen's own writings a convincing psychological portrait of an author who recovered from depressive years of being angry with himself by projecting that anger and rage outward and then finding love of himself and others. -- Tom LeClair * The Daily Beast * From The Twenty-Seventh City (1988) to Freedom (2010), and with some reference to -Franzen's newest novel, Purity (2015), Weinstein traces the author's oeuvre to uncover its creative impulse. He asserts that Franzen's artistic drive rests on his ambivalence, his simultaneous desire to both critique his world and be accepted and loved by it, a conflict that Weinstein defines as the "comedy of rage." Chapter-length close readings and biographical details frame, contextualize, and expand upon Franzen's major works. Drawing on the novelist's essays and previously published interviews as well as personal interviews and emails (Weinstein met Franzen when both taught at Swarthmore College), -Weinstein assembles a careful and convincing argument. -VERDICT Fluent and immersive, Weinstein's criticism will interest not only scholars but also writers. Strongly recommended for academic libraries. (Starred review) * Library Journal * Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage is a virtuoso performance, a triumph of rigorous thought, canny, profound insight, verbal prowess, creative imagination, and magisterial judiciousness. Weinstein's wise, sensitive, and witty account of Franzen's growth and development makes a compelling argument for Franzen's place as America's preeminent writer. Like Franzen's fiction, Weinstein contemplates issues that fascinate and vex us all: the nature of values, personal growth, pain and suffering, intimate relationships, failure and frustration, hope and happiness. Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage is literary and cultural critique of the highest order. * Robert H. Bell, Frederick Latimer Wells Professor of English, Williams College, USA * Weinstein's rigorously critical approach to The Corrections and Freedom reminds us that while Franzen is a legitimate contender for the mantle of literary greatness, the jury is still out. Instead of simply declaring victory for his man, Weinstein invites the reader to engage in a serious conversation about the art of modern American fiction. What more could one ask? * David R. Riggs, Professor Emeritus of English, Stanford University, USA, and author of Ben Johnson: A Life and The World of Christopher Marlowe * Philip Weinstein's new book on Jonathan Franzen is a probing and incisive study of an American novelist who has become one of the most recognized figures of the millennial generation. In this convincing auteur study, biographical detail and intensive close readings of the work are seamlessly combined to produce illuminating discussions of Franzen's career and celebrity status, his difficulties with writer's block, the encyclopedic range of his novels, and his relationship with David Foster Wallace. Weinstein successfully establishes the centrality of Franzen's work at mid-career and at a moment when his image and capacities as an important writer are beginning to emerge more clearly from the chemical bath of contemporary canon-formation. * Patrick O'Donnell, Professor of English, Michigan State University, USA * In Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage, Philip Weinstein traces an increasingly well-known story about his subject...Yet Weinstein is troubled: ... Weinstein finds it difficult to square what he sees as [Franzen's] toing and froing between "mainstream" and "elite" concerns.... He asks: 'How do the suspicious intellectual loner and the mainstream writer idolized by millions (and despised by sizable numbers) come together as one person?' * Times Literary Supplement (Roz Dineen) * Excerpted * Salon *

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