American Fiction Series, Rev. Ed.
The original four volumes of Masterplots II, American Fiction Series (1986) explored works by some of the most important writers of the Americas-North, Central, and South. A two-volume supplement published in 1994 updated and extended the original series' coverage. The six volumes of Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition incorporate 439 entries from the previous editions and add a further 128 new entries on important works by contemporary or hitherto neglected writers. (To eliminate duplication, works covered in the 1996 twelve-volume set Masterplots, Revised Second Edition are not included here.) The annotated bibliographies attached to each article have also been revised and updated to reflect recent scholarship.
The 567 entries in Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition thus cover a broad range of writers and works. Classics by such canonical U.S. writers as Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner are given thorough treatment, as are the masterworks of such Latin American giants as Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes and such Canadian notables as Robertson Davies and Margaret Atwood. The increasing prominence of ethnic voices in U.S. fiction is reflected by articles on works by such writers as Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, Ernest J. Gaines, and Rolando Hinojosa. Important developments in women's literature are treated in discussions of works by such authors as Barbara Kingsolver, Terry McMillan, and Amy Tan. Discussion of works by such best-selling writers as Stephen King and Scott Turow reflects the state of American popular fiction. Essays on books by such past writers as D'Arcy McNickle and John Okada help to give a more complete picture of America's literary history.
Each article begins with ready-reference information that presents the date of the author's birth (and death, if applicable); the type, time, and locale of the work's plot; and the date of the work's first publication. A brief description of the work's principal characters precedes a more extensive analysis.
This analysis begins with a summary of the work's major plot elements and continues with separate sections that explore the work in depth. "The Characters" delves into the motivations and development of the individuals portrayed; "Themes and Meanings" examines the work's larger concerns; and "Critical Context" assesses the work's place in the American literary tradition and summarizes its reception. Each entry concludes with an annotated bibliography that directs readers to recent sources for further study.
The articles in Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition are arranged alphabetically by title. Three indexes at the end of volume 6 are designed to assist the reader in selecting articles of interest. In keeping with the recent emphasis on diversity in literary studies, the Geographical and Ethnic Index, a feature new to the Masterplots II series, lists authors by country of origin and, where appropriate, by major ethnic group. The Author Index lists all entries for each writer surveyed, while the Title Index locates specific works.
We would like to thank the many academicians and other writers who contributed to this set. A list of their names and affiliations appears at the beginning of volume 1. Special mention must also be made of Editor Steven G. Kellman of the University of Texas at San Antonio, who applied his expert knowledge to the shaping of the set's contents, and of Kevin and Pegge A. Bochynski, who scrutinized and updated the bibliographies of the older entries to reflect current scholarship.