Friday, March 19, 2021

more on Revolutionary Road and the 1950s

Here's another resource on a influential book about the 1950s...This is a topic where I've had some success in publishing. Here's my review of Yates' book and a link to other articles I've had about data about the 1950s

In First Things, Peter Tonguette takes another angle to the usual interpretation of Yates' work: 

On the surface, Revolutionary Road does indeed read as a brief against the suburbs...[But] “The book was widely read as an antisuburban novel, and that disappointed me,” Yates said in a 1972 interview in Ploughshares. “The Wheelers may have thought the suburbs were to blame for all their problems, but I meant it to be implicit in the text that that was their delusion, their problem.”

Two other paragraphs to share:

Thus begins one of the most harrowing stretches in any twentieth-century novel, and Revolutionary Road’s true theme comes into focus. In the interview in Ploughshares, Yates recalled being asked about the subject of his new novel and responding that it was about abortion. “And the guy said what do you mean by that?” said Yates (who seems to have been a conventional liberal and at one point wrote speeches for Robert F. Kennedy). “And I said, it’s going to be built on a series of abortions, of all kinds—an aborted play, several aborted careers, any number of aborted ambitions and aborted plans and aborted dreams—all leading up to a real, physical abortion, and a death at the end.”

...At last the remaining ­Wheelers depart their ­complacent suburban ­neighborhood, but no ­intelligent reader will assign blame to their address. Two lives have been sacrificed on the altar of wishing to be ­perceived as smarter, more ­stylish, and more cultured than the neighbors.