By E.L. Doctorow
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Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow ranked # 86 on The Modern Library's Top 100 Novels list as selected by its Board Members.
Ragtime is a 1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow. This work of historical fiction is mostly set in New York City from about 1900 until the United States entry into World War 1 in 1917.
A unique adaptation of the historical narrative genre, the novel blends three fictional American families and various actual historical figures into a historical framework that revolves around events, characters and ideas important in the History of the United States.
The narrative tells of the interlinking lives of three groups of people.
Harry Houdini repeatedly appears in the narrative interacting with the characters and tying many details together. Other real historical characters in the novel include J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, Harry K. Thaw, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Booker T. Washington, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.
The novel was very well received by literary critics. It was a nominee for the Nebula Award for Best Novel and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and the Arts and Letters Award.
Fredric Jameson's 'Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism' (1991 Duke Uni Press) devotes 5 pages to Doctorow's 'Ragtime' in illustrating the crisis of historiography and a resistance to interpretation.
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