The Literature of Labor and the Labors of Literature

Allegory in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction

The Literature of Labor and the Labors of Literature

This book juxtaposes representations of labor in fictional texts with representations of labor in nonfictional texts in order to trace the intersections between aesthetic and economic discourse in nineteenth-century America. This intersection is particularly evident in the debates about symbol and allegory, and Cindy Weinstein contends that allegory during this period was critiqued on precisely the same grounds as mechanized labor. In the course of completing a historical investigation, Weinstein revolutionizes the notion of allegorical narrative, which is exposed as a literary medium of greater depth and consequence than has previously been implied.


"More than any critic I can think of, Cindy Weinstein has developed a sustained argument about the historical conditions for allegory....this bold new theory of allegory puts Cindy Weinstein at the forefront of a new generation of Americanists." Wai-Chee Dimock, Brandeis University

"...Weinstein's book attends carefully to authors' contradictory uses of allegory. Always situating texts in a historical and cultural framework, Weinstein illuminates interestingly Ahab's simultaneous foregrounding and erasure of his labor in meaning-making and Mark Twain's attraction to two conflicting models of personhood (statistical and nonstatistical) in Connecticut Yankee." Nineteenth-Century Literature

"The soundness of Weinstein's thesis and the theoretical sophistication of her individual readings make this an important book..." American Literature