Off-canon Pleasures

Off-canon Pleasures

By Armin Paul Frank
Book Description

The inclusion of works in a canonical list creates a large body of exclusions. But among these neglected works there are not a few that nevertheless are worth reading. Literary worth is not necessarily aesthetic impeccability. A literary work recommends itself by a high degree of artistic achievement with elbowroom for historical importance. The present study focuses on Leo Rosten´s immigration novel The Education of Hyman Kaplan (1937) and Archibald MacLeish´s radio play Air Raid (1938). The first is more than the apparent compendium of language-based jokes. Read in the context of immigration policy from Presidents Theodore Roosevelt to F. D. Roosevelt and of Jewish-American humor, it displays Kaplan´s moral and intellectual growth, which extant commentary denies, and exhibits the "interior internationality" of an immigration country. Air Raid is one of the few achieved American radio plays to take a stand on foreign affairs in a context that does not only consist of broadcasting and Picasso´s collage-painting Guernica "the screaming picture" which MacLeish transposed into the acoustic medium but also of the historical saturation bombing of the Basque town.

Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Contents
  • 1 Introduction
    • 1 Internationality, external and internal
    • 2 Leo Rosten and Archibald Macleish
    • 3 The critical standing of Rosten and MacLeish
    • 4 Summary
  • 2 Leo Rosten and the Matter of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N
    • 1 The “new immigrants” and Americanization
    • 2 Jews in twentieth-century American humor
    • 3 Narrating a Night School for Adults
    • 4 The opening situation
    • 5 The wide world of The Education of Hyman Kaplan, the wider world of O Kaplan! My Kaplan!
    • 6 Language humor and beyond
    • 7 An international problem in beginners’ grade
    • 8 Mr. Kaplan’s education
    • 9 Summary
  • 3 Archibald MacLeish and the Theme of Imminent War
    • 1 Context of politics, poetics, and radio
    • 2 Doctrines of air war
    • 3 Pablo Picasso’s Guernica
    • 4 Old style war and new in Air Raid
    • 5 The radio art of Air Raid
    • 6 Summary
  • 4 Perspective
    • 1 Ten more works of low visibility
    • 2 Invitation
  • Appendices
    • Appendix I – A Brief Propositional Examination of the Canon
    • Appendix II – Reporting Guernica – Questions of Knowing
      • 1 An air raid and its repercussions
      • 2 A war correspondent’s ways of knowing
      • 3 George L. Steer: Launching the story of Guernica
      • 4 “Historic Basque Town Wiped Out” as news story
      • 5 George L. Steer: Revising the story of Guernica
      • 6 Later accounts
      • 7 Conclusions
  • References
  • Literature Consulted
  • Backcover
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