Study Guide

American Pastoral Genre

By Philip Roth

Genre

Family Drama; Historical Fiction; Postmodernism

American Pastoral spans four generations of the Levov family; family conflict is at the heart of the story. It's one version of what can happen to a family when tragedy strikes, this time in the form of a bomb thrown by Merry Levov. Much of the focus is on the 1960s and the chaotic mood in America over the Vietnam War, although World War II comes in to play as well. The events of the novel are visibly intertwined with the historical movements they coincide with and collide with.

Also, American Pastoral is often touted as a postmodern book because of its chaotic way of playing with time, its fairly complex narrative scheme, its fragmented nature, and its free blending of pop culture, "fine" art, and literary culture. The fact that the writing process is part of the story is another hallmark of the postmodern novel.

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