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|Title:||Myths of Individualism in E.L. Doctorow's 'Ragtime'||Contributor(s):||Harris, S (author)||Publication Date:||2001||Handle Link:||https://hdl.handle.net/1959.11/664||Abstract:||Contemplating his imminent departure from Poland, with its long and compromising 'genealogies of concern and obligation', this central character in Susan Sontag's recent historical novel gives expression to the now-hackneyed dream of the New World. Looking westward, he conveys a longing for the promise of imaginative self-renewal -- in effect at once a yearning for regenerative innocence and a fantasy of romanticised self-perfection -- a promise that coincides with the idea of America as a place of 'newness, emptiness, pastlessness' where the individual can turn 'life into pure future.'1 That Ryszard communicates his feelings in the ambiguous form of a rhetorical question (put to himself in the third person) is worth noting for, in what is also a now-familiar story, what he and his fellow emigres inevitably discover is that the idea of self-renewal is, in practical terms, a far more difficult proposition. Sontag's novel is more complex than this suggests, and is noteworthy for what appears to be her revaluation of the symbolic significance of 'America' -- the 'old' New World that Sontag portrays in contrast to the contemporary United States.2 In restating what arguably remains the central American idea -- that of the potential for untrammelled self-transformation -- within the form of an historical novel that looks back to an 'America' of the past, Sontag's text serves as a fitting introduction to E. L. Doctorow's historical novel 'Ragtime', a novel which offers a more explicit critique of this very same idea.3||Publication Type:||Journal Article||Source of Publication:||Australasian Journal of American Studies, 20(2), p. 47-62||Publisher:||Australian and New Zealand American Studies Association||Place of Publication:||Australian National University, Canberra||ISSN:||0705-7113||Field of Research (FOR):||200506 North American Literature||Peer Reviewed:||Yes||HERDC Category Description:||C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal||Other Links:||http://www.anzasa.arts.usyd.edu.au/a.j.a.s/docs/index.htm||Statistics to Oct 2018:||Visitors: 127
|Appears in Collections:||Journal Article|
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