Monday, December 6, 2010
I have been reading around in college novels, and was surprised by how much I like Owen Johnson's Stover at Yale (1911), which creates an amazingly detailed sense of period and sensibility. It also seems an essential background to F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise (1920) -- certainly more so than Nathaniel Hawthorne's Fanshawe (1828) which Fitzgerald likely did not even know. There is a good edition of Johnson's novel at ManyBooks.com, which I'd recommend. Though students would certainly prefer Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2008), Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons (2005), or Brett Easton Ellis's The Rules of Attraction (1998), I think the more historical choices have a lot to teach us about the changing meaning of college.