American Emperors


by Gore Vidal
This is the fifth novel in Gore Vidal’s chronicle of American history. So far it runs from Burr (1973) to Lincoln (1984) and 1876 (1976), then on to Washington, D.C. (1967) and the onset of World War II. Empire covers the turn of the century, from 1898 with William McKinley’s …

Green Giant

Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered

by William H. Pritchard
William Pritchard’s “literary life” of Robert Frost is a persuasive antidote to Lawrance Thompson’s official biography, which reached its demolishing conclusion in 1976 with its third and final volume. Its portrait of the poet inspired one reviewer to conclude that he was “a monster”; another that he was “a mean-spirited …


A Flag for Sunrise

by Robert Stone
This is the third novel by Robert Stone—A Hall of Mirrors was a Houghton Mifflin Fellowship Book in 1967, Dog Soldiers won the National Book Award in 1975—and it is even more’ relentlessly violent and cataclysmic than either. Here, as in the earlier works, the characters who find themselves joined …

Classics and Commercials

Democracy and the Novel: Popular Resistance to Classic American Writers

by Henry Nash Smith
In 1895, about a month after the humiliating jeers and boos that greeted his play Guy Domville, Henry James made an entry in his notebooks that epitomizes the plight of most of the American novelists discussed in Henry Nash Smith’s new book. “The idea of a poor man, the artist, …

Women at Home

Robert Frost is often at his best as a poet when “home” is at its worst, and it could not be much worse than in most of his poems about women in the country. In a peculiar way, his treatment of women recalls a nineteenth-century novelistic convention in which the …