Historical Fictions

Hugh Kenner

A master critic ranges across the western canon


"Stick with Kenner's Historical Fictions when you want to remember that literature is not only the best intellectual exercise around, it is also supposed to be fun. . . . What is remarkable is thatr given the pressure of such expansive knowledge, Kenner still manages to write apt, amosing prose."
New York Times Book Review

"A Kenner idea floats gently on the mind, and he often strings together words as beautifully as the poets and novelists he is explicating."
San Francisco Chronicle

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In Historical Fictions Hugh Kenner applies his extraordinarily nimble mind and unrivaled style to the alchemy of speech turning into language, language becoming art, and art finally settling down as culture. A variety of literary topics are addressed in forty-three lively, often humorous, and wonderfully informative essays.

With his trenchant, famously entertaining touch, Kenner explores the role of counting in literature (Joyce and St. Augustine shared a preference for the number eleven); the extravagant efforts through the ages to preserve the Iliad and the Odyssey (focusing on Ezra Pound's contributions); and Tom Wolfe's prose through the purple decades (Kenner calls him "the nonchalant master of the neon-piped sentence"). Other writers who fall under Kenner's appraising gaze include Flann O'Brien, H.D., Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Dante, Leslie Fiedler, Wallace Stevens, Saul Bellow, William Carlos Williams, Samuel Beckett, and Vladimir Nabokov.

Page count: 344 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $30.95

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Hugh Kenner was the Franklin and Callaway Professor of English at the University of Georgia. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including The Pound Era, Joyce's Voices, and Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings.