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Literary Precedents for The City and the Pillar

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At this point in Vidal's career, the main influence on his style is clearly Ernest Hemingway. Not only the terse prose but the artless, almost plotless, narrative structure also owes much to Hemingway in a novel like The Sun Also Rises (1926). Only the melodramatic ending (either version of it) seems to suggest other antecedents.

James M. Cain or hard-boiled detective fiction like Raymond Chandler's might have been an influence here. While there is no precedent for discussion of this particular subject in mainstream fiction, there are many instances in literary history of authors expanding the range of subject matter available for literature. Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1857) is a case in point. It was damne d as obscene yet went on to become a best seller for its day and is now recognized as a literary classic at least in part because of the originality of...

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This section contains 173 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The City and the Pillar Short Guide
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