Facing the Abyss: American Literature and Culture in the 1940s


Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.1 X 1.6 inches | 1.65 pounds

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About the Author

George Hutchinson is the Newton C. Farr Professor of American Culture in the Department of English at Cornell University, where he also directs the John S. Knight Institute. His books include The Harlem Renaissance in Black and White (1996) and In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line (2006).


In Facing the Abyss, George Hutchinson brilliantly reorders our understanding of an era long overshadowed by the spectacular events of World War II. This is an important and exciting book--original, revisionary, visionary--that deserves our full attention and praise.--Arnold Rampersad, Stanford University
Facing the Abyss: American Literature and Culture in the 1940s is a brilliantly conceived project destined to become a landmark book. With just the right amount of polemical energy, Hutchinson mobilizes his facts with verve and precision in this indispensable work that transforms our sense of this turbulent decade.--Maria DiBattista, Princeton University
Bringing together art, literature, philosophy, and music, Hutchinson has created a kind of critical mosaic that produces insights that open up the 1940s as a cultural field, grounded in the ungrounded processes of art as incalculable experience. The juxtapositions of unconnected figures induce in the reader a new vision of the era and new dimensions of the authors and works discussed. It is a work of exceptionally deft intellectual choreography, conducted with enviable precision and concision.--Ross Posnock, Columbia University
A richly detailed investigation of burgeoning creativity in a decade marked by both hope and dread.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
A cross-genre study that illuminates common ideational content drifting across American culture in that tumultuous decade. . . . Hutchinson's study bodes fair to become a classic in the field of American literary studies.-- "Library Journal"
Facing the Abyss shines a light on a neglected decade, turning it into an overture to the rest of the century, and it contributes a rich historical viewpoint to our own conflicting concerns about identity.--Morris Dickstein "Times Literary Supplement"
A dazzling work of cultural history. . . . Facing the Abyss is a book to ponder, argue with, and admire for the author's ability to cut across genres and art forms without leaving readers stranded in a dead end.--Bernard F. Dick "The Journal of American History"
George Hutchinson's Facing the Abyss has bracing and revelatory things to say about American culture in the 1940s; also, by contrast and implication, about American culture today. . . . The culture and literature of the 1940s were, Hutchinson found when writing about them, 'both unexpected and inspiring.' As is this book.--Edward Mendelson "The New York Review of Books"