Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

The early part of the twentieth century, as Ragtime explains, saw a shift in public sentiment away from the...

(The entire section is 1033 words.)

Literary Style

(Novels for Students)

Point of View
The point of view of this novel is uncertain. The prevailing consciousness is certainly that of the Little...

(The entire section is 684 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The narrative strategy of Ragtime is inventive and complex. The point of view is that of a minor character, the only child of Father...

(The entire section is 312 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Doctorow's experimentation with narrative method, his design for bringing together history and fiction, and his complex vision of American...

(The entire section is 286 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Ragtime is a daring combination of fiction and history. Doctorow holds a mirror up to a decade of history in order to reflect the...

(The entire section is 210 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)

David Emblidge, "Progress as Illusion in Doctorow's Novels," Southwest Review, Vol. LXI, Autumn, 1977, pp....

(The entire section is 277 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Fowler, Douglas. Understanding E. L. Doctorow. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1992. Provides criticism and interpretation of Doctorow’s works.

Garrison, David. “Ovid’s Metamorphoses in E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime.” Classical and Modern Literature: A Quarterly 17 (Winter, 1997): 103-115. Garrison asserts that classical myths from Ovid are elaborated in Ragtime. These allusions to Ovid create an ironic tone and exhibit a deep interest in transformation, thus Ragtime continues a tradition that began with Ovid.

Harter, Carol C., and James R. Thompson....

(The entire section is 292 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Novels for Students)

1909: An interpreter for a French film company, attending the inauguration of President William Howard Taft, conceived the idea of...

(The entire section is 426 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Study the music of Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Eubie Blake, or another famous ragtime musician. Describe the characteristics of the...

(The entire section is 152 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Doctorow has acknowledged his debt to Michael Kohlhaas, an eighteenth-century novella by the German author Heinrich Von Kleist. The...

(The entire section is 155 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Doctorow's novels are not meant to be read as a coherent series, but Ragtime is related to books that come before and after it in the...

(The entire section is 85 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Ragtime was made into a motion picture in 1981. (Produced by Dino De Laurentis. Directed by Milos Forman. Screenplay by Michael...

(The entire section is 135 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Novels for Students)

An audio cassette version of Ragtime read by William Levine was released by Blackstone Audio.

The 1981 film version of...

(The entire section is 40 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)

The character of Coalhouse Walker Jr. is based upon the character Michael Kohlhaas from an 1808 novella written by German author Heinrich von...

(The entire section is 325 words.)