The Doubling: Those Influential Writers that Shape Our Contemporary Perceptions of Identity and Consciousness in the New Millennium


Diana Sheets – University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA
Michael F. Shaughnessy, PhD – Professor of Psychology, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico, USA

Series: Fine Arts, Music and Literature
BISAC: LIT000000

The Doubling: Those Influential Writers That Shape Our Contemporary Perceptions of Identity and Consciousness in the New Millennium examines pairs of writers, 28 in all, to compare and contrast their books, their personalities, and their responses to the age in which they lived. In the case of the chapter devoted to the black experience, it also includes an overview of some of the greatest African-American writers of the 20th century and their most memorable work. The scope of The Doubling extends from the inception of the modern novel through the present. The book is presented in a Q & A format with Diana Sheets responding to questions posed by Michael F. Shaughnessy. Their conversation offers penetrating insights in light of recent scholarship and established criticism. The Doubling is uniquely suited to serve as a textbook in high school and college classrooms, in libraries, and educational institutions. (Imprint: Nova)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents




Chapter 1. An Interview with Diana Sheets: Foundational American Writers—Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne

Chapter 2. An Interview with Diana Sheets: Kafka & Cervantes—Two Writers, Two Lives, Beginnings & Ends of the Literary Novel

Chapter 3. An Interview with Diana Sheets: Jorge Luis Borges & Gabriel García Márquez—The Global Influence of Latin-American Fiction Today

Chapter 4. An Interview with Diana Sheets: William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway: Mythic Storyteller and Writer Engaged with the World

Chapter 5. An Interview with Diana Sheets: Two Authors in Search of the Black Experience: Ralph Ellison and Colson Whitehead

Chapter 6. An Interview with Diana Sheets: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Saul Bellow, and the Pursuit of the Great American Novel

Chapter 7. An Interview with Diana Sheets: Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe, Two Leaders of “New Journalism” or Writers Striving to Create the “Great American Novel”?

Chapter 8. An Interview with Diana Sheets: American Naturalism—Frank Norris & Theodore Dreiser, Two Great American Novelists

Chapter 9. An Interview with Diana Sheets: Evelyn Waugh and Edward St. Aubyn—Privilege, Pedigree, and “the Order of Precedence”

Chapter 10. An Interview with Diana Sheets: J. M. Coetzee and Will Self—20th Century Fiction & into the New Millennium, its Apex and its Descent

Chapter 11. An Interview with Diana Sheets: Flannery O’Connor and Cynthia Ozick—Two Disparate Souls

Chapter 12. An Interview with Diana Sheets: Junot Díaz & Roberto Bolaño—Today’s Most Celebrated Contemporary Latino Voices?

Chapter 13. An Interview with Diana Sheets: Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn—Two Soviet Writers in the Shadows of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky

Chapter 14. An Interview with Diana Sheets: Realism, Naturalism, and Licentious Obscenity—French Authors Émile Zola and Michel Houellebecq

Chapter 15. Conclusion: What is Needed to Sustain Literature and its Readers


Audience: Advanced High school students, AP courses, Baccalaureate studies, Campus Honors Courses, English Departments (high school and college), public libraries, college libraries, school libraries.

“Diana Sheets has produced a lively and conversational presentation of the major storytellers of the modern literary tradition. It’s a wonderful introduction for American students, high school and college, who come to these works often as strangers. The Q & A format is engaging and Sheets knows just when to inform and when to interpret. I would recommend this to my own students.” Mark Bauerlein, Professor of English, Emory University

“The Doubling is an intellectual can-opener for closed minds. It’s the book that every 21st century undergraduate needs to understand how the great works of Western literature illuminate the human condition. Mustering a highly innovative-and easy-to-read approach-Dr. Sheets and Dr. Shaughnessy pair authors and their methods of storytelling to dissect how people tick. The Doubling is a trail guide to what Chekhov called “the matchless smell of humanity,” imparting lessons on every page.” – Jonathan Sanders, Professor of Journalism, Stony Brook University

“I highly recommend The Doubling, a series of literary interviews with Diana Sheets with questions posed by Michael F. Shaughnessy. It’s an edifying enhancement of The Great Conversation exemplified in the Hutchins/Adler Great Books of the Western World. The Doubling facilitates our educational understanding of great literature and enriches our appreciation of the humanities.” Max Weismann, Cofounder with Mortimer Adler, Center for the Study of The Great Ideas in Chicago

“These lively conversations take us back to fundamental truths about important books, works that have struck deep in the Western imagination, opening and exploring the nature of consciousness and the mystery of who and what we really are. There’s no scholastic noodling here; any thoughtful reader can read these chapters, enjoy them, and come away refreshed.” – Bruce Michelson, author of Printer’s Devil: Mark Twain and the American Publishing Revolution

“The Doubling, by Dr. Diana Sheets is a compelling, richly analytical, witty and engaging work. The pairing of key literary figures, including for example Cervantes and Kafka; or Borges and Márquez, revolves around “the familiar and the strange,” a concept fundamental to both the arts and anthropological research, at the heart of interpretation. Profound and playful at the same time, Sheets examines novels within their authorial and sociological contexts with depth, sophistication, and sensitivity.” Liora Bresler, Professor of Education, University of Illinois

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