Manifestations of transcendence in twentieth-century American fiction : F. Scott Fitzgerald, Carson McCullers, J.D. Salinger, and Cormac McCarthy.
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Noble, O. Alan.
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At the beginning of the twentieth century, the secularization of American society poses a unique problem for fiction writers. As a number of scholars in various fields have established, humans desire and are oriented towards the transcendent, but in an increasingly secular world, the transcendent ceases to be conceivable as a reality irreducible to the material universe and instrumental reason. In response to this tension, American authors of the twentieth century sought alternative visions of transcendence which would not betray or challenge immanent materialism. Looking at the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Carson McCullers, J.D. Salinger, and Cormac McCarthy, this study traces various manifestations of transcendence in literature during this period. The thesis of the study is that a desire for the transcendent is a major preoccupation of twentieth-century American fiction, as authors tried to conceive of the otherworldly in immanent, materialist imagery and language, and that by tracing these manifestations of transcendence we gain a richer understanding of the texts, the literary period, and the social milieu out of which they arise.