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Possessive White Male Nostalgia: Louis Begley’s About Schmidt

  • Tim Engles
Chapter

Abstract

As Sally Robinson explains in her landmark study of recent novels written by white American men in which the protagonists undergo identity crises, such novels often complain that the rise of identity-bound claims among disempowered groups constitutes an unwarranted attack on white men. In Louis Begley’s About Schmidt (1996), the protagonist’s enactment of proper WASP masculinity, objectifying sexism, and genteel bigotry reflects a steady longing for an earlier era, in which entitled, grasping, competitive behavior was conducted at the expense, and with the seemingly subservient acquiescence, of gendered and ethnoracially subordinated others. Begley suggests the personal costs of stubborn adherence to white supremacist patriarchal ideology and that a common reaction among the era’s entitled, middle-aged white men was to reflect nostalgically on earlier times in which their possessive tendencies did not seem under fire.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eastern Illinois UniversityCharlestonUSA

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