Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Freddy’s Book is a dual fiction, a contemporary story that includes a historical novel with fantastic elements. The book probes the relationships of art to life and of human beings to one another. The first section, “Freddy,” takes up roughly a quarter of the entire work and serves as an introduction to the longer second half, “Freddy’s Book,” which is subtitled “King Gustav and the Devil.” “Freddy” not only sets up the longer section but also places it in context by introducing the themes that flow throughout the entire work. As the book begins, Jack Winesap, a psychohistorian and popular figure on the academic lecture circuit, has just finished speaking at a college in Madison, Wisconsin, when he meets Sven Agaard, an old-line traditionalist historian who believes that Winesap’s methods are dubious and their results harmful to true historical and human understanding. Winesap agrees to be Agaard’s guest at the older man’s home during his visit, and while he is there, the debate between the two men continues, introducing many of the themes that are developed in the second half of the book. In particular, the two historians confront such basic issues as what constitutes truth in human experience and what role language plays in relaying that truth. During their conversation, Agaard reveals that his son, Freddy, is a “monster.” At first, Winesap dismisses this as exaggeration, but he later learns that it is in some ways true....
(The entire section is 776 words.)
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