Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates (1961)

Essay; American Beauty (Circa 1955) by “As ‘Revolutionary Road’ approaches its 40th year in print, it seems odd to imagine readers opening it for the first time. So primary and forceful have been this novel’s appeal and effects upon two generations of us that to not already know Richard Yates’s great book seems incongruous, and handing it over cold feels clumsy, a bit like introducing a sage old friend to a precocious new friend: we almost would rather not, for all the crucial things that cannot be thought and said again. And yet of course we must, since great books, like great friends, are to be shared. Suffice it to say that among readers of American fiction since the beginning of the 1960’s, ‘Revolutionary Road,” published to acclaim in 1961, has become a kind of cultish standard. And this is especially true among writers, who have kept its reputation burnished by praising it, teaching it, sometimes unwittingly emulating its apparent effortlessness, its complete accessibility, its luminous particularity, its deep seriousness toward us human beings — about whom it conjures shocking insights and appraisals. We marvel at its consummate writerliness, its almost simple durability as a purely made thing of words that defeats all attempts at classification. Realism, naturalism, social satire — the standard critical bracketry — all go begging before this splendid book. ‘Revolutionary Road’ is simply ‘Revolutionary Road,’ and to invoke it enacts a sort of cultural-literary secret handshake among its devotees.  … To a casual passer-by, the Wheelers’ lives might not seem so different from their neighbors’ — the pleasures and anxieties being the available, expectable ones: participation in the community theater group, tipsy, twilight dinners with other like-minded home-owners, easy shots to and from the commuter line, the comfort of being indistinguishably in the culture while staying solidly in command of life’s fundamental choices; and — less cheerily — a wan inability to keep the frustrations of youth’s passage precisely at bay, the fatigue of the workplace grind, the puzzlement of keeping life interesting and vigorous while maintaining the nuclear unit intact. But into the Wheelers’ lives comes much that is not good, even if no single visitation seems exceptional enough to render the whole unsurvivable. …”
NY Times
W – Revolutionary Road
New Yorker: Like Men Betrayed
NPR: An Emotional Journey Down ‘Revolutionary Road’

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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1 Response to Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates (1961)

  1. A work that spotlighted the universal fragments and pieces of relationships traversing eras.


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