Summary (Masterplots II: World Fiction Series)
Although the novel is entitled The Tennis Players, it is less about tennis than it is about academe. The story is told from the point of view of the main character, Lars Gustafsson, who happens to share the name of the author. Gustafsson, a Scandinavian professor of literature, reminisces about one year in his life which he spent teaching a seminar in nineteenth century European thought at the University of Texas. At first, he is able to take advantage of his year in the Texas sunshine to bicycle and to perfect his tennis serve, but he is reluctantly drawn into a series of events concerning university matters that drag him away from his beloved tennis courts.
The novel has many picaresque elements, in that it is somewhat unstructured. While the details are specific and concrete, the separate events are generally unrelated, and the various characters interact only with the central character. For example, Doobie and Bill are students of Professor Gustafsson and are presumably in the same seminar, but they do not seem to know each other. Also, the fact that the author and the central character share the same name and occupation suggests that the novel is, at least to some extent, autobiographical. While the main character is not a picaro because he hardly qualifies as a rascal, he does, as a visitor from Sweden, stand outside the social order of south central Texas and find that many of its traditions and mores are incomprehensible to him....
(The entire section is 1111 words.)
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