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Eleven Kinds? Loneliness and Reading for Type with Richard Yates

Reese, Sam VH ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0023-3333 (2022) Eleven Kinds? Loneliness and Reading for Type with Richard Yates. American Literature, 94 (2). pp. 357-380.

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During the mid-twentieth century, loneliness became the dominant affect in American fiction, reflecting a broader cultural narrative that social and demographic changes had led to a crisis of loneliness. This affective shift is captured in Richard Yates’s 1962 short story collection, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness—but Yates’s deliberate framing of his stories as “eleven kinds” implies a second object of critique. Reading Yates’s work for social and psychological types, this article proposes that personality tests, corporate typing, and social typologies had a major role in the rise in loneliness in midcentury America—a relationship borne out by contemporary sociology, most prominently The Lonely Crowd (1950) by David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denney. This article further argues that by reading midcentury fiction more broadly for type, we can understand loneliness not merely as a bad feeling but as a space of contest between individuality and group belonging, intimately connected to larger political and social narratives. Setting Yates’s stories against midcentury novels by Ralph Ellison and Mary McCarthy, this article reframes American loneliness in light of the cultural changes of the midcentury and writers’ struggles with the possibilities and limitations of type.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-9779078
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5995

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