Literary Techniques

This is a critic's feast. Every second chapter is narrated by Nixon, and those told in an omniscient voice capture or parody a wide range of...

(The entire section is 220 words.)

Social Concerns

More sprawling in its scope and more overtly political than anything else he has written except for the story, "The Cat in the Hat for...

(The entire section is 564 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Anderson, Richard. Robert Coover. Boston: Twayne, 1981. This thorough presentation of Coover’s work for a prestigious American literature series includes a remarkably condescending treatment of The Public Burning (Chapter 4, as part of a general discussion of “the later works”), grudgingly praising its inventiveness but accusing it of lack of emotional range.

Cope, Jackson I. Robert Coover’s Fictions. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. This study relates Coover’s work in general, and The Public Burning in particular, to Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the “dialogic novel,” in which the single authorial persona of traditional fiction is replaced by a multiplicity of voices, with the reader left to choose among them.

Gordon, Lois. Robert Coover: The Universal Fictionmaking Process. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983. A detailed study of Coover’s methods. Chapter 4 looks at mythical, linguistic, and social aspects of The Public Burning.

Viereck, Elisabeth, “The Clown Knew It All Along: The Medium Was the Message.” Delta 28 (June, 1989): 63-81. As the subtitle suggests, this essay applies Marshall McLuhan’s theories to the view of the media presented in The Public Burning.