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The Territory Ahead Paperback – June 1, 1978


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 247 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (June 1, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803281005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803281004
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,934,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bo K. on May 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Morris' book was written in the late 1950's, before criticism became an exercise in ideology. This book is written in the mold of Matthiessen, Richard Chase, RWB Lewis, Richard Poirier, Leslie Fieldler, and even Harold Bloom; all critics who read a body of work and then illuminate connections therein.

Morris is largely critical of the mainstream of American literature, starting from Thoreau and WHitman, through Twain, Hemingway, WOlfe and James among others. Like Wendell Berry, he is critical of the theme of flight from civilization in this vein of US lit, as symbolic of a failure to address pressing socio-cultural issues in the art. Like Lawrence, he finds that this vein of lit seems fixated on writing books for boys, about people who cannot come to grips with adult life, and have thereby created a nostalgic world of the imagination out in the territories. Only in James does he find a writer who tries to address the true significance of American cultural life. But this leads him to his second criticism of American literature:

The overemphasis on style, which eventually becomes representative of the writer rather more heavily than any reliance upon themes. He is critical of the way that such writers as Hemingway, Faulkner and most particularly WOlfe become quite farcical in the way their later books recycle the same authorial voice, without really venturing anything new in terms of meaning.

Morris's book is still relevant because of the way he illuminates a problem that American literature still has. When you read such writers as Cormac McCarthy, you see how deeply the Hemingway/Faulkner voice has become entrenched in the minds of purportedly literary writers.
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