William Saroyan American Literature Analysis
From 1934, when The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze appeared, to the wartime era of the early 1940’s, Saroyan enjoyed a literary reputation rivaling those of William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. After the war, however, he was unable to achieve enough critical recognition and popularity to regain it. To later generations of readers, the vigor and originality that marked his writing in the 1930’s and early 1940’s was gone, and, with some exceptions, his successive works seemed too familiar, self-centered, and routine. As a result, his postwar era audience steadily dwindled.
Ironically, it was partly Saroyan’s success that accounted for his ebbing popularity. The literary voice he fashioned was well suited to the bad times of the Great Depression and the anxious situation of the prewar era, but conditions changed, and, like many other writers, Saroyan was unable to make a full adjustment to either his fame or the changing times. His later literary career seems largely spent in self-justification.
The solipsistic self-centeredness of Saroyan’s later work is, to some measure, foreshadowed by the earlier work on which his reputation rests. His first collection of stories, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, contains several pieces in which the narrative voice is unabashedly the author’s own, despite the narrator’s fictional identification as a character of a different ethnic or national origin from...
(The entire section is 3889 words.)
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