Alcoholism and Drinking in Twentieth-century Literature
This first full-length study of drinking as it is depicted in literature is an interdisciplinary study of science and literature which explores the ways in which the scientific knowledge of alcoholism may enlighten the reader as well as the means by which literature may confirm, intensify, dramatize, extend, and occasionally even challenge empirical studies. Gilmore shows that literature conveys the complex struggle in an alcoholic fictional character or a real person in a way that science cannot. Originally published in 1987. A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
An exploration of alcoholism in the work of some major 20th-century writers, including Lowery, Waugh, O'Neill, Cheever, Bellow, Fitzgerald, Berryman, Amis, and Orwell. If there is a glue that holds these essays together, it is the quibble of Gilmore (English/Georgia State U.) with the one-dimensionality of the scientific view of the alcoholic. There is a stereotype that has developed of the writer/alcoholic (as Kazin has noted, five of the six American Nobel Prize winners in literature were either alcoholics or "hard drinkers"). Literary biographers, the author argues, often cop out on the complexities of the alcoholic writer, while literary critics ignore the issue, since they "naturally attend to what they know best, which is not alcoholism." Gilmore takes the stand that good literature resists stereotyping the alcoholic, showing him rather as a figure divided into a welter of conflicting feelings. "Much of the literature about alcoholism achieves great value when it directs our attention to the duality or equivocality of the spiritual dimension of drinking." For instance, Sebastian Flyte, in Brideshead Revisited, gains a kind of topsy-turvy salvation out of his drinking disease that would be thoroughly denigrated by the lords of science. Stopping short of in vino veritas, Gilmore adds a new, noteworthy perspective to literary criticism. (Kirkus Reviews)