Signs of the Signs: The Literary Lights of Incandescence and Neon by William Brevda (Hardback, 2011)
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- DescriptionThis book is a study of signs in American literature and culture. It is mainly about electric signs, but also deals with n-electric signs and related phemena, such as movie sets. The sign is considered in both the architectural and semiotic senses of the word. It is argued that the drama and spectacle of the electric sign called attention to the semiotic implications of the sign. In fiction, poetry, and commentary, the electric sign became a sign of manifold meanings that this book explores: a sign of the city, a sign of America, a sign of the twentieth century, a sign of modernism, a sign of postmodernism, a sign of ir, a sign of naturalism, a sign of the beats, a sign of signs systems (the Bible to Broadway), a sign of tropes (the Great White way to the neon jungle), a sign of the writers themselves, a sign of the sign itself. If Moby Dick is the great American vel, then it is also the great American vel about signs, as the prologue maintains. The chapters that follow demonstrate that the sign is indeed a sign of American literature. After the electric sign was invented, it influenced Stephen Crane to become a nightlight impressionist and Theodore Dreiser to make the fire sign his metaphor for the city. An actual Broadway sign might have inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. In Manhattan Transfer and U.S.A., John Dos Passos portrayed America as just a spectacular sign. William Faulkner's electric signs are full of sound and fury signifying modernity. The Last Tycoon was a sign of Fitzgerald's decline. The signs of ir can be traced to Poe's The Man of the Crowd. Absence flickers in the neons of Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles. The death of God haunts the neon wilderness of Nelson Algren. Hitler's empire was an n-intentional parody of Nathanael West's California. The beats reinvented Times Square in their own image. Jack Kerouac's search for the center of Saturday night was a quest for transcendence.
- Author BiographyWilliam Brevda is professor of English at Central Michigan University.
- Author(s)William Brevda
- PublisherBucknell University Press
- Date of Publication24/06/2011
- SubjectComputing: General
- Place of PublicationCranbury
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintBucknell University Press
- Content NoteIllustrations
- Weight794 g
- Width165 mm
- Height239 mm
- Spine36 mm
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