Alison Lurie American Literature Analysis
Lurie has been compared to Jane Austen, Henry James, and Mary McCarthy (another satiric novelist who finds comic material in the American university), and to contemporaries such as Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, Norman Mailer, and Philip Roth. Like Austen, she can be viewed as a novelist of “manners,” a writer concerned primarily with the follies of highly sophisticated people who are often emotionally self-indulgent and insecure, caught between sense and sensibility, pride and prejudice. In fact, one of Austen’s juvenile works is titled Love and Freindship (sic; wr. 1790), almost the same title that Lurie used for her own first novel, Love and Friendship.
Like James, Lurie is concerned not only with the manners and customs of Americans but also with their moral and psychological problems, with the “felt life” of the imagination as well as the realistic terrain of the social world. James was concerned with American character and often placed his Americans in European settings (or Europeans in American settings) to show them in stark contrast. In Foreign Affairs, Lurie employs James’s “international theme” by sending her two principal Americans, Vinnie Miner and Fred Turner, to London, where American naïveté encounters European sophistication. Lurie’s similarities to her contemporaries are more obvious. Like McCarthy in novels such as The Groves of Academe, Lurie finds comedy in academe; like Vonnegut,...
(The entire section is 5047 words.)
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