• Kyle Wiggins


This introduction surveys the American revenge genre. It scans modern fiction, film, and television and finds vengeful desire evolving within the national imagination. Breaking from classical tragedy, in which revenge stories follow the logic of reciprocity, recent American narratives depict retribution as a limitless, insatiable craving. In the words of Philip Roth’s The Human Stain: “Payback. There was no end to it.” Through readings of spiteful tales across different media—including novels, comic books, and popular cinema—the chapter demonstrates how American culture transforms the revenge genre into a political and socioeconomic reckoning. Alongside overviews of current revenge scholarship and the essays contained in American Revenge Narratives, this introduction calculates the value of reading and watching payback stories during our vengeful age.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyle Wiggins
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Rhetoric, College of General StudiesBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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