University Press Copublishing Division / Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Trim: 6½ x 9¾
978-1-61147-429-9 • Hardback • December 2009 • $121.00 • (£93.00)
John S. Bak is Associate Professor at Nancy-Université in France.
The effete Tennessee Williams (1911-83) and the burly Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) would seem to have little in common beyond their inclusion in the pantheon of American writers. Indeed, they met only once, their work spans different genres, and they are commonly placed in different literary generations. However, Bak (Nancy-Université, France) makes an interesting case for considering them together because of their mutual examination of hetero-masculine identity politics. In particular, he reframes the current understanding of Hemingway's influence on Williams, using Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises as a touchstone for revising the accepted vision of Cat on a Hot Roof's Brick before turning, in the final chapter, to Hemingway's posthumous writings to interpret Williams's later work. Bak makes much...of Jake Barnes as a precursor to Brick, but he also opens discussion of Williams's less-known works. This volume will be more interesting to Williams scholars than to Hemingway scholars, as Bak notes in his introduction. But it offers insight into Cold War America and the sexual politics that Williams challenged, in part through his connection to Hemingway as man and artist. Summing Up: Recommended.
— Choice Reviews
John Bak's Homo Americanus is at once a narrow character study and a broad examination of American masculinity in the twentieth century....It is an ambitious work that demonstrates how much drama studies has to offer to the study of American literature.
— Project Muse