238th out of 413 books — 341 voters
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Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture
In this first general theory for the analysis of popular literary formulas, John G. Cawelti reveals the artistry that underlies the best in formulaic literature. Cawelti discusses such seemingly diverse works as Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Dorothy Sayers's The Nine Tailors, and Owen Wister's The Virginian in the light of his hypotheses about the cultural function of formul ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published July 15th 1977 by University Of Chicago Press
(first published April 1976)
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Excellent breakdown of formula fiction, especially for adventure and mystery. Cawelti shows why formula story should not be viewed as inferior novels or stories but as art in itself. Great insight to the moral fantasies that are being fulfilled in each formula.
This fascinating, engaging, and insightful book examines "formulaic" genres of literature. The early chapters focus on the generalized readers' experience -- the appeal of works of fiction that provide a seemingly paradoxical combination of pleasures: on the one hand an adventure-filled escape from mundane everyday life, and on the other hand the security and comfort of a familiar structure and a predictable outcome. In his introduction, Cawelti charmingly compares the experience to that of a ...more
This book is comprehensive (and comprehensible) and convincing. Cawelti argues that “formula” fiction, far from being a lower grade of art than the “literary” novel is in fact a form that requires of its authors certain abilities that are unique to it: an artistry of convention, an artistry of the moment, and an artistry of cultural myth-making. He examines five modes of formula fiction: the gangster novel, the classic detective novel, the hard-boiled detective novel, the western, and the social ...more
This is quite a useful analysis of formulaic literary genres. However, I made the mistake of having my senior English class read part of the chapter on formulaic literature without having read the whole thing myself, and I later realized it had a VERY graphic description of pornography, albeit in service of making a very relevant point about how people misunderstand formula in literature.
May 18, 2011 Colin rated it really liked it · review of another edition
It's fascinating to read Cawelti's dissection of crime and mystery, and adventure. He traces the evolution of the detective story from Poe's 'The Purloined letter through to the early 1970's (the book was first published in 1976) and makes fascinating what could be as dry as dust.