Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Great American Novel
The Great American Novel is the concept of a novel that perfectly represents the spirit of life in the United States of America at the time of its publication. It is presumed to be written by an American (more specifically, an American from the US) author who is knowledgeable about the state, culture, and perspective of the common American citizen. Although the title is not a formal award, it is considered to be a prestigious title for a novel, and is thus seen as a worthwhile goal for writers to attempt to achieve.
Though the term is singular, many novels have been given this title over time. In fact, few will claim there is one single Great American Novel. Two of the earliest contenders for this title are Herman Melville's Moby-Dick and Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Several 20th century works have also emerged as worthwhile subjects for this discussion, including such highly respected novels such as John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Even controversial novels ranging from J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye to Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero have sometimes also received this title from critics and scholars (though the worthiness of these novels of the title is sometimes debated).
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