Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Rise of the New Western in the 1960s: E.L. Doctorow’s Welcome to Hard Times

On the New Western:

In these circumstances, the Western managed to survive by parodying its own formula restrictions and distorting the classic reader’s expectations of the genre. The Western also became part and parcel of the artistic innovations at hand as it was taken up even by traditionally non-Western writers such as Thomas Berger (Little Big Man, 1964), Ishmael Reed (Yellow Back Radio Broke Down, 1968) and E.L. Doctorow, to name a few. These authors turned to the most popular genre of the time with a double mission: to both deconstruct it, and to use it to revive the traditional novel-writing process through the use of Western elements. The traditional novel, like the Western, was commonly regarded to have exhausted itself.

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