Summer 1960 • Vol. XXII No. 3 Book ReviewsJuly 1, 1960 |

A Traitor to His Class?

Love And Death In The American Novel by Leslie A. Fiedler. Criterion Books. $8.50. Everyone but me seems to find Leslie Fiedler a terribly controversial fellow. For many weeks now I have been listening to the most agitated polemics, the most shrill repudiations and denunciations of this book by estimable and normally torpid professors and literary critics. The substance of their charges seems to be that Fiedler (a) gives a wildly distorted picture of American literature, and (b) has merely elaborated, with insufficient acknowledgment, some hackneyed and conventional truths about American literature. It is obvious that both of these propositions cannot be true; and if they are more or less simultaneously asserted, that would seem to indicate a previous, free-floating hostility. What is its source? Is it the Freudian premises of the book? Are the critics really shocked at the notion that there is a homoerotic element in the relation of Queequeg and Ishmael, Huck and Nigger Jim

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