Book Review: Truth’s Ragged Edge: The Rise of the American Novel

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Title

American Studies



"As he expertly navigates the literary and the social landscapes of the newly founded nation, Philip Gura outlines the rise of the American novel beginning with William Hill Brown’s The Power of Sympathy (1789). His coherently organized study aims to revive “a dormant tradition” (xix) of earlier studies of the novel by Alexander Cowie (1948), Richard Chase (1957), and Henri Petter (1971). As Gura demonstrates, these texts overlook a number of important novelists without whom no study of the American novel is complete. Gura provides a more inclusive outline by including women and African American novelists who were crucial to the novel’s development and evolution. He thus responds to scholars like Nina Baym and Jane Tompkins, who have argued for the inclusion of female novelists within the tradition as crucial to the novel’s evolution."



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