This casebook investigates William H. Gass’s The Tunnel. H. L. Hix provides a topical overview as an introduction to the novel. Debra Di Blasi’s “Gass Pain” says The Tunnel suffocates in its similes and does not make its narrator wicked enough. Jonathan N. Barron argues in his “Sentenced to Sentences” that in Gass’s novel it is lyric poetry — rather than fiction or history — that triumphs over fascism. Melanie Eckford-Prossor’s “Confronting The Tunnel” contends that the novel’s insistence on intra-textual irony, combined with its denial of extra-textual irony, makes it intellectually challenging but ethically repugnant. Jim Barloon’s “Götterdämmerung in the West” sees The Tunnel as a deflated and deflating novel: a flatulent proclamation “of whatever’s left untoppled in the transcendental realm” after the death of God.
Jim Barloon is currently an assistant professor of English at Mississippi State University in Meridian. He received his Ph.D. in 1995 from the University of Kansas; his dissertation examines the role of secrets in the novels of Dickens. He has published articles on Dickens, Hardy, and Faulkner, and regularly contributes reviews to English Literature in Transition.
Jonathan N. Barron, an associate professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, is editor of The Robert Frost Review, and has co-edited books on Jewish American Poetry (New England University Press, 2000), and Robert Frost (University of Missouri Press, forthcoming). He has also published numerous essays on contemporary poetry.
Debra Di Blasi is the author of Prayers of an Accidental Nature and Drought & Say What You Like, winner of the 1998 Thorpe Menn Book Award. Her screenwriting credits include the internationally award-winning film Drought, which will open the Universe Elle section at the 53rd Cannes International Film Festival on 11 May 2000. She recently completed a novel, What the Body Requires (formerly titled Reprise: Reprisal), finalist in the James Fellowship for the Novel-in-Progress, and is currently at work on her fourth book.
Melanie Eckford-Prossor teaches Critical Theory and American Literature at Mississippi State University. She has published on William Gass, the euro, and is currently at work on a project about the colonization of childhood.
H. L. Hix is a professor of philosophy in the Liberal Arts Department of the Kansas City Art Institute. His poetry books are Rational Numbers, winner of the 2000 T. S. Eliot Prize, and Perfect Hell. His books of criticism include Understanding W. S. Merwin and Spirits Hovering Over the Ashes: Legacies of Postmodern Theory.