Greil Marcus is the author of The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice, Lipstick Traces, and other books; with Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America. In recent years he has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Princeton University, the New School University, and the University of Minnesota. He was born in San Francisco and lives in Oakland.
19th-century America bred fads, cults, and new religions as perhaps no other time or place ever has. Writing without judgement, but with plenty of verve, Seldes profiles the charismatic and often off-kilter leaders of these movements and sketches their hidden histories.
American myth and American reality come to a head in Handke’s spare and dreamlike 1972 novel, in which a young Austrian alternately pursues and flees his ex-wife, culminating in a Hollywood ending.
Constance Rourke’s pioneering “study of the national character” examines such legendary figures as the Yankee, the backwoodsman, and the minstrel singer to show how the popular comic imagination contributed to America’s changing self-awareness.