By Mary McAleer Balkun

Fakery, authenticity, and id in American literature and tradition on the flip of the 20 th century

concentrating on texts written among 1880 and 1930, Mary McAleer Balkun explores the idea that of the “counterfeit,” either when it comes to fabric items and invented identities, and the ways in which the purchase of gadgets got here to outline contributors in American tradition and literature. Counterfeiting is, in a single feel, concerning the construction of anything that looks authentic—an invented self, a museum exhibit, a solid murals. however the counterfeit is additionally a method in which the actual is measured, thereby growing our belief of the genuine or real.

When counterfeiting is utilized to person identities, it fosters fluidityin social limitations and the video games of social mountaineering and passing that experience become consultant of yank tradition: the Horatio Alger tale, the con guy or huckster, the social climber, the ethnically ambiguous.
Balkun presents new readings of conventional texts reminiscent of The nice Gatsby, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The condo of Mirth, in addition to readings of less-studied texts, comparable to Walt Whitman’s Specimen Days and Nella Larsen’s Passing. In each one of those texts, Balkun locates the presence of synthetic identities and counterfeit figures, demonstrating that the place authenticity and consumerism intersect, the self turns into yet one other commodity to be promoted, offered, and at last consumed.

 

 
 

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