The Great American Novel by William Carlos Williams (Heathen Edition)

The Great American Novel

Spine #35
William Carlos Williams
First Edition
Heathen Edition
August 14, 2023
Heathen Genera
Paperback ISBN
Hardcover ISBN

If there is progress then there is a novel. Without progress there is nothing. Everything exists from the beginning. I existed in the beginning. I was a slobbering infant. Today I saw nameless grasses — I tapped the earth with my knuckle. It sounded hollow. It was dry as rubber. Eons of drought. No rain for fifteen days. No rain. It has never rained. It will never rain. Heat and no wind all day long better say hot September. The year has progressed. Up one street down another. It is still September. Down one street, up another. Still September. Yesterday was the twenty-second. Today is the twenty-first. Impossible. Not if it was last year. But then it wouldn’t be yesterday. A year is not as yesterday in his eyes. Besides last year it rained in the early part of the month. That makes a difference. It rained on the white goldenrod. Today being misplaced as against last year makes it seem better to have white — Such is progress. Yet if there is to be a novel one must begin somewhere.

William Carlos Williams (1883–1963) was an American physician, author, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who lived most of his life in Rutherford, New Jersey. In 1923 he published two works: Spring and All, one of his seminal books of poetry, and his lesser-known, much-overlooked, and vastly underappreciated anti-novel experiment The Great American Novel, which employs what is known today as metafiction to satirize what Williams viewed as the derivative tropes, clichés, and formulaic unoriginality of American novels at the time. Eschewing the time and space of traditional narrative structure and, instead, intermeshing elements of Dadaism, Cubism, Imagism, and plagiarism, Williams “added a new chapter to the art of writing” that simultaneously preempted and foreshadowed postmodernism during the defining decade of modernism.

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"One of the first anti-novels written in the U.S."
Webster Schott
The Great American Novel Poster

The Great American Novel Poster