Empire Falls and How A Disillusioned Society of the Early 21st Century Resorts to Romantic Tendencies
This paper is principally aimed at analyzing the theme of Richard Russo’s Empire Falls in its relation with the socio-economic context of its publication in 2001, namely the economic recession that characterizes the earliest decade of the 21st century. The analysis will be based on historical approach’s assumption of the correlation between literary works and social context in which they are produced. Intrinsically, the novel is dissected into two levels. They are surface level (form) and deeper level (content). The results of the analysis are in the form of philosophical speculations of the novel, which are believed to follow the mood of the early 21st century, including 1) disillusionment to social mobility, 2) incredulity to human agency, and 3) romantic tendencies. This novel’s reaction to the decline of capitalism in the early 21st century seems to be similar to early romantic reaction to the rise of capitalism by returning to nature and resorting to external forces whether divine entity or otherwise.
Keywords: 21st century novel; American economic recession; romanticism.
- T. Giardina, “Reviews: Empire Falls by Richard Russo,” Italian Americana, vol 21, no. 2, p. 233+, 2003. [Online]. Available: JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/29776898?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents. [Accessed: November 13, 2018.
- D. Leonhardt, “Equal Opportunity Recession: Almost Everyone Is Feeling It,” New York Times, December 16, 2001. [Online]. Available: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/16/us/equal-opportunity-recession-almost-everyone-is-feeling-it.html. [Accessed November 13, 2018].
- K. Rabinowitz and Y. Shin, “The Great Recession’s great hangover,” The Washington Post, September 7, 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/business/great-recession-10-years-out/?utm_term=.0641b33e8ea1. [Accessed November 13, 2018].
- P. Krugman, End This Depression Now. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.
- E. F. Kaelin, “Method and Methodology in Literary Criticism,” The School Review, vol 72, no. 3, p. 289+, 1964. [Online]. Available: JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1083596?origin=JSTOR-pdf. [Accessed: November 15, 2018].
- S. Ernst, “Using Qualitative Content Analysis of Popular Literature for Uncovering Long-Term Social Processes: The Case of Gender Relations in Germany,” Historical Social Research, vol. 34, no. 1 (127), p. 252+, 2009. [Online]. Available: JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20762344. [Accessed: November 15, 2018]
- L. Tyson, Critical Theory Today. London: Routledge, 2015.
- R. Russo, Empire Falls. New York: Vintage Books, 2002.
- E. Beller and M. Hout, “Intergenerational Social Mobility: The United States in Comparative Perspective,” The Future of Children, vol. 16, no. 2, p. 19-36, 2006. [Online]. Available: JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/3844789. [Accessed: November 30, 2018].
- R. Haveman and T. Smeeding, “The Role of Higher Education in Social Mobility”, The Future of Children, vol. 16, no. 2, p. 125-150, 2006. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3844794
- J. L. Zagorsky, “Marriage and divorce’s impact on wealth”, Journal of Sociology, vol. 41, no. 4, p. 406-424, 2005. [Online]. Available: SAGE, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1440783305058478. [Accessed: December 3, 2018].
- Inter-American Development Bank Research Department, “Entrepreneurship and Social Mobility: What’s the Connection?”, Ideas for Development in the Americas, vol. 32, 2013. [Online]. Available: https://webimages.iadb.org/publications/english/document/Ideas-for-Development-in-the-Americas-(IDEA)-Volume-32-September---December-2013-Entrepreneurship-and-Social-Mobility-What-the-Connection.pdf. [Accessed: December 19, 2013]
- N. Lamb, The Art And Craft Of Storytelling: A Comprehensive Guide To Classic Writing Techniques. Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2008.
- M. T. Gilmore, American Romanticism and the Marketplace. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1988.
- M. Alexander, A History of English Literature. London: Macmillan Press, 2000.