11. Freedom (2010): Realism after Postmodernism

  1. James Phelan

Published Online: 1 APR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118512876.ch11

Reading the American Novel 1920-2010

Reading the American Novel 1920-2010

How to Cite

Phelan, J. (2013) Freedom (2010): Realism after Postmodernism, in Reading the American Novel 1920-2010, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118512876.ch11

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2013
  2. Published Print: 10 APR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780631230670

Online ISBN: 9781118512876



  • American novel;
  • Freedom;
  • Jonathan Franzen;
  • postmodernism;
  • realism


The debate about the novel's quality provides a valuable frame for this chapter's discussion of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, since it allows us to identify the criteria underlying these assessments and what they suggest about the possibility of a new dominant to follow postmodernism. The author argues that, while the reviewers' impatience with postmodernism points to a widespread desire for a new dominant, their criteria are neither sufficiently flexible nor sufficiently attuned to the nuances of Franzen's novel to provide an adequate basis for one. He offers a rhetorical reading of Freedom that seeks to do better justice to it and that supports the position that the novel deserves to take its place alongside our previous nine novels in the American canon.