Leslie A(aron) Fiedler 1917–
American critic, novelist, and short story writer.
Fiedler's critical work centers on the mythical elements in literature. Using primarily Marxist and Freudian perspectives, he attempts to uncover the origins of modern literature and show how the myths of previous generations are used in literature today. In Love and Death in the American Novel, Fiedler stated that the same melodramatic elements found in eighteenth-century sentimental and gothic fiction are embodied in the American novel, along with repressed themes of homosexuality and miscegenation.
Some of Fiedler's later work analyzes American culture through its literature. In Waiting for the End he saw America on the brink of disaster because of its deterioration of values and he lamented the demise of his ideal of American literature. In The Return of the Vanishing American Fiedler analyzed the myths which have helped to define American culture, including the myth of the Indian in literature as diverse as Shake-speare's The Tempest and Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Fiedler's work has generated considerable controversy. Philip Rahv's comments on Waiting for the End sum up the general consensus of Fiedler's criticism: "[Fiedler] is nothing if not brilliant…. [However], he is long on generalizations … and short on evidence." Nevertheless, despite being called "the wild man of American literary criticism," Fiedler has impressed critics with his insight into the mythical elements which distinguish literature and his search for morality at the center of literary art.
(See also CLC, Vols. 4, 13; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 9-12, rev. ed.; and Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 7.)