The Place of Fiction in the Time of Science: A Disciplinary History of American Writing

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In this 1990 book John Limon examines the various ways American authors have approached the writing of fiction (and justified that writing) in an age increasingly dominated by science. He focuses in particular on Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne - three highly articulate and highly alarmed witnesses to the professionalisation of science, the great crisis in modern intellectual history. It was, he argues, especially specially difficult for American writers to face this crisis since they could make no appeal to traditional values: America, after all, had never really been a pre-scientific society.