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Nelson Algren’s masterpiece, The Man with the Golden Arm, won the first National Book Award in 1949. In vivid vernacular American English, Algren depicted the world of Damen and Division as Chicagoans experienced “the new way we got of doin’ things” after World War II.
In this seminar we will explore the world of Frankie Machine, his pal Sparrow, his wife Sophie, his lover Molly, and his bartender, Antek the Owner. The bars, police stations, and defunct factories are the setting of Chicago’s transformation from a patchwork of urban ethnic villages to a post-industrial city. We’ll delve slowly and deeply into Algren’s novel, contextualized with his own literary criticism and with the work of scholars since.
Bill Savage has been teaching seminars on Chicago literature, history, and culture at the Newberry Library since 1992.
Nelson Algren, The Man with the Golden Arm: 50th Anniversary Critical Edition (Seven Stories Press, 1999). ISBN: 978-1583220085
No first reading assignment.