Shelf 4: American Archetypes: Men Without Qualities

As a Ph.D. in American literature who wrote a dissertation (and first published book) on the relationship between “contemporary fiction”—obviously a moving target—and the classics, I’ve often found myself reflecting on how difficult it is for new generations of readers to get any sense of the conversation I came in on.  (I’m fairly certain my mentors felt the same about my cohort.)  In making this list, I imposed a slightly arbitrary cut-off date of 1978, the year I finished the dissertation.