From Wise Guys to Wise Men by P-TaylorFrancis


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									From Wise Guys to Wise Men

As the real American gangsters of yesterday recede into the history books, their iconic figures loom
larger than ever. From Wiseguys to Wise Men studies the cultural figure of the gangster, and explores its
social function in the construction and projection of masculinity in the United States. Gardaphe shows
how the gangster can be seen as a 'trickster' figure. The trickster figure exists in many cultures and
serves as a model of improper behavior. The gangster has served as that figure in American culture by
showing what is and is not authentically American. It is not American to speak a language other than
English. It is not American to use violence to secure business deals. It is not American to have both a
mistress and a wife and family. However, in the hands of Italian-American artists, the gangster becomes
a more telling figure in the tale of American race, gender, and ethnicity-a figure that reflects the
autobiography of an immigrant group just as it reflects the fantasy of a native population. While this figure
has been a part of American literature since even before Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, it has only been
with the revolution in cinema, and the work of Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese that the figure of
the gangster has been humanized and disseminated on a large scale. Gardaphe investigates the role of
the gangster in their films, as well as the literature of such great Italian American writers as Mario Puzo
and Gay Talese.By looking at the cultural icon of the gangster through the lens of gender and masculinity
From Wiseguys to Wise Men presents new insights into material that has been part of American culture
for close to 100 years.

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