Critical Insights: Americans Writers in Exile Review

“This volume in the Critical Insights series focuses on the intriguing idea of American writers in exile. Contributions examine, of course, the literal acts of writers removing themselves from their home country to gain different perspectives. But pieces also delve into motivating factors behind their exile, figurative ideas of exile, questions of national identity, and much more. Essays touch on an array of such writers as W.H. Auden, Ernest Hemingway, Paul Bowles, Jamaica Kincaid, and Hart Crane.

An opening essay by the editors helps define the many aspects of exile; it is an “act of exclusion and banishment,” “a scattering or dispersion” and can be political or personal, for example. The four-essay Critical Contexts section then offers broad-based foundational essays touching on the general need for writers to distance themselves. Jeff Birkenstein’s essay “Paris Between the Wars: Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Hunger and Language” uses the example of two renowned writers situated in the right place (post World War I Paris) to observe the beginnings of a new age while removed from their more conservative, American origins. Joseph J. Cheatle then discusses the exile of two African American writers, James Baldwin and Richard Wright, who physically removed themselves from America’s racial tensions but never really left them behind.
Critical Readings then presents 11 diverse essays examining the unique manifestations of writers abroad. Charlotte Anne Fiehn writes about Henry James, whom readers may consider the prime example of the American expatriate. Her essay looks at his contrasting views of nineteenth-century Americans and Europeans, and establishes James’ influence on future exiled writers. Ashley E. Reis, in her essay “Edward Abbey’s Ecological Exile,” discusses how the author’s exile came in the form of his scathing anti-development views, which were completely at odds with post-war America.

The volume concludes with a listing of other works by these American writers in exile, and a bibliography, and an index.”