The White Logic

Alcoholism and Gender in American Modernist Fiction


The first extended literary analysis to take account of recent work by social historians on the temperance movement, this book examines the relationship between intoxication and addiction in American life and letters during the first half of the twentieth century. In explaining the transition from Victorian to modern paradigms of heavy drinking, Crowley focuses on representative fictions by W. D. Howells (The Landlord at Lion's Head), Jack London (John Barleycorn), Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender Is the Night), John O'Hara (Appointment in Samarra), Djuna Barnes (Nightwood), and Charles Jackson (The Lost Weekend).

Crowley considers the historical formation of "alcoholism" and earlier concepts of habitual drunkenness and their bearing on the social construction of gender roles. He also defines the "drunk narrative," a mode of fiction that expresses the conjunction of modernism and alcoholism in a pervasive ideology of despair--the White Logic of John Barleycorn, London's nihilistic lord of the spirits.

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