Despite the vigorous study of modern American fiction, today's
readers are only familiar with a partial shelf of a vast library.
Gordon Hutner describes the distorted, canonized history of the
twentieth-century American novel as a record of modern classics
insufficiently appreciated in their day but recuperated by scholars
in order to shape the grand tradition of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and
Faulkner. In presenting literary history this way, Hutner argues,
scholars have forgotten a rich treasury of realist novels that
recount the story of the American middle-class's confrontation with
modernity. Reading these novels now offers an extraordinary
opportunity to witness debates about what kind of nation America
would become and what place its newly dominant middle class would
have--and, Hutner suggests, should also lead us to wonder how our
own contemporary novels will be remembered.