The Authors

In order to get a sense of how people at the time viewed these developments, I have selected six authors from different backgrounds who were active at this time. On the one hand, there are three white authors from different class backgrounds, Gore Vidal being mostly elite, Norman Mailer more middle-class and Hunter Thompson lower-class. On the other, we have several authors from a minority background, with James Baldwin and Eldridge Cleaver representing different ends of the civil rights debate, and Vine Deloria as a major Indigenous voice. In addition to their diverse backgrounds, these authors were all critical of the current state of the United States, as expressed either in their non-fiction or fiction works. More importantly, many of these works blur the line between the two, operating on the intersections of fiction and non-fiction, giving slightly different insights. This will allow me to reconsider the historical narratives by revisiting them from the perspective of the literary author to see if the same events and developments were important and if 1968 was actually considered a turning point then. It is to be expected that what literary authors have written may offer nuance to certain generalizations that have been made about the period. Literary artists have proven to be highly sensitive to social developments, functioning almost as visionary figures with a unique perspective on the society they live in. This will also be revealing of the tension between ideals and reality, and the way people deal with these discrepancies. Above all, although sharing a critical perspective, the authors have different criticism due to their various backgrounds and personalities, which makes a comparison all the more interesting.

Although this corpus is diverse in some respects, it has obvious shortcomings. Most importantly, it does not include any female voices. The main justification for this, if there can be one, is that the women’s movement did not really emerge until after 1968, and there were few female critics that engaged with current developments as explicitly at this time, especially not in ways that mixed non-fiction and fiction, the way most of these (male) authors did. Still, I have made some recommendations for further research, in which it would certainly be interesting to include women. Another potential point of criticism is the absence of strong LGBTQ voices, as this is another movement that only really began to emerge in the nineteen-seventies, partly as an outcome of what had been happening during the nineteen-sixties. Although both James Baldwin and Gore Vidal were openly homosexual and addressed this in their works, they never really fought for these causes or connected with the movement.

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