After utopia: the rise of critical space in by Nicholas Spencer

By Nicholas Spencer

By means of constructing the idea that of serious house, After Utopia offers a brand new family tree of twentieth-century American fiction. Nicholas Spencer argues that the novel American fiction of Jack London, Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, and Josephine Herbst reimagines the spatial issues of past due nineteenth-century utopian American texts. rather than totally imagined utopian societies, such fiction depicts localized utopian areas that offer crucial help for the versions of background on which those authors concentration. within the midcentury novels of Mary McCarthy and Paul Goodman and the overdue twentieth-century fiction of Thomas Pynchon, William Gaddis, Joan Didion, and Don DeLillo, narratives of social house develop into decreasingly utopian and more and more severe. The hugely diversified "critical house" of such texts attains a place just like that loved through representations of old transformation in early twentieth-century radical American fiction. After Utopia reveals that imperative elements of postmodern American novels derive from the openly political narratives of London, Sinclair, Dos Passos, and Herbst.Spencer makes a speciality of exact moments within the upward thrust of serious house in the past century and relates them to the writing of Georg Luk?cs, Ernst Bloch, Antonio Gramsci, Hannah Arendt, Henri Lefebvre, Gilles Deleuze and F?lix Guattari, and Paul Virilio. The systematic and genealogical stumble upon among severe idea and American fiction finds shut parallels among and unique analyses of those parts of twentieth-century cultural discourse.

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Martin’s experiences of history and space are interwoven. When he reads Herbert Spencer, he is elated to discover the theory of evolution. Initially, his belief in Spencerian theory displaces the reality of working-class space: “At table he failed to hear the conversation about petty and ignoble things, his eager mind seeking out and following cause and effect in everything before him” (149). As the novel progresses, Martin seeks to integrate his spatial experiences into the deterministic theories that he embraces.

By removing the utopian naturalism of class struggle and socialist space from the narrative, London reinscribes many of the conflicts of The Iron Heel as a critique of nonsocialist perspectives on causality and space. As Howard argues, Martin Eden “self-consciously” explores “many of the elements of naturalism” (61), but it is important to note that such reflexivity applies to the ambiguities and contradictions of The Iron Heel, and the repetition of situations and themes enhances this sense of critical reinscription.

These idealized spaces inspire the movement of socialist history and thus are integral to London’s utopian naturalism. Throughout the narrative, nature provides spatial refuges in which the socialists practice utopian social relationships and prepare for forthcoming revolutionary activity. Most obviously, the Glen Ellen refuge serves this concrete-utopian function. The refuge is “another world” (293), where the socialists realize art, leisure, and ideal social relationships. As in Bloch’s discussion of Leonardo’s painting, the natural space of the refuge suggests the utopian possibility of the future.

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